Exiled to my own country

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

[Henry’s Lake, ID, just outside the western entrance to Yellowstone N.P.]

Back in the American West again, where I’ve always felt comfortable and at home even though I’m not from here and only ever lived here for a few years.

“Wait.  What?  I thought you were in Spain?”

You are correct.  I were in Spain but I had to leave in order to stay there.

” . . . ?”

I was there until a couple of weeks ago.  I decided I liked it and wanted to stay so I had to return to the US to make that happen.

“But, you were just a few hours outside the capital.  Couldn’t you just go to Madrid and take care of that?”

No.  Americans must apply for a residency visa at the Consulate that has jurisdiction over their home state.  In my case Houston covers Tennessee.  I had to fly back to the US, get some documents that require my physical presence here and then wait for my appointment at the Consulate.

“And is that soon?”

15 August.

“That is almost two months from now.”

Yep.

“And then you get to go back to Spain?”

Nope.  That appointment is just to hand over my application and all the supporting documents, in duplicate and all translated into Spanish.  Oh, and I leave my passport with them so I can’t go anywhere else.

“And then what?”

And then I wait for their answer.

“How long does that take?”

The Embassy web site says two months or more.  The Consulate web site said, on the day I made my appointment, that they were then at a two week turn around.  So somewhere between two weeks and two months, or more.

Meanwhile I don’t have a job, I don’t have a place to live, I don’t have a car and I don’t know how long I will be here.  Oh, and after the Consulate makes a decision, I have to go back to Houston to retrieve my passport, hopefully with the visa affixed.

“Fun.  And you brought this all on yourself why?”


Yogi Boo Boo log

[Yogi Bear and Boo Boo are the property of Hanna-Barbera.]

Today is Friday.  I am sitting on a bench in Jellystone National Park watching Old Faithful not erupting.  Not erupting is what it does almost all the time.  I picked this bench because no one was sitting on it and no one was sitting on any of the benches around it so that I could scribble these notes in the little book of empty pages that I keep in my back pocket.

Now I am surrounded by exasperated parents and grandparents feebly trying to entertain their bored, unimpressed, shrieking children and to restrain them from running toward the geyser.

Wednesday morning I awoke relieved to be checking out of yet another hotel and move on to a month-long AirBnB rental.  For almost all of the last four months I have been in hotels in Spain and the US.  I enjoy traveling but eventually I tire of living out of a suitcase.  I can happily go for a week or two with just a backpack or a small carry-on size bag, but lugging all my stuff from place to place every few days gets old.  Fortunately I found a house on a lake here in Memphis with a pontoon boat and a kayak available for my use and a big porch overlooking the lake to sit on and read and write this drivel.

Reprieve . . . snatched out from under me.  I just got a text from the couple that owns the lake house informing me that they are at their home in Florida and won’t be back for another couple of weeks, so the rental is not available, even though the website took my money.

With no place to stay here in Memphis, I decided to rent a small, cheap car and head out vaguely northwest.  The states in the US that I have not yet visited are all in New England or the northern mid-west.

Two hours fighting the rental car company website ended in my eventual victory and a message that a compact car would be awaiting me at noon.  Another hour at the rental car office, listening to their completely reasonable explanation why their web site was wrong and no compact cars were available, and I was pulling away in an electric blue SUV.  Errands around town meant that I was not crossing the bridge and into Arkansas until some time after 3 pm.

With that late a start, my best hope was to get north of the Ozarks and in to Missouri before I had to stop for the night.  For once, my life-long companion, insomnia, worked in my favor.  I crossed into Wyoming at 2:50 pm Mountain time the next day and into Montana twenty minutes later.  By 7 pm I was in Billings and called it quits for the day.  1,490 miles in 29 hours on the road, including stops.  That averages out to better than 50 mph.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

[Eastern South Dakota, day two.  Note bugs on windshield from overnight drive.]

I found a restaurant in the historic city center that was empty enough to give me a large booth to myself and the password to their wifi.  While eating a better than expected meal I found a local hotel and booked a room for three nights.  Billings is a small city of about 100,000 people with two interstate highways running through it, so it makes a good base from which to explore the greater area.

I schlepped my bags up to the hotel room, thought about going out to explore town and woke up ten hours later near 6 am.  I fetched coffee from the lobby and showered and dressed to go explore and hike in Yellowstone.  About an hour from Billings is the quaint town of Red Lodge, MT, not to be confused with the Black Lodge of Twin Peaks.  Nothing creepy here.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The only thing missing from this stereotype is the hitching posts on either side of the street.

Just west of Red Lodge, we climbed near the base of the overcast which now enshrouded the mountain peaks.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Another hour and a half drive, through the most breath taking scenery of the day on the switchbacks of the Beartooth Highway, brought me to the north east entrance to the park in a slight drizzle.  I didn’t really have a destination in mind but had nearly the whole day to explore randomly so I headed diagonally southwest toward the middle of the park.  There the two loops of the main roads meet to form a figure eight.

Between the park entrance and the connection of the two loops, I crossed a mountain pass below Mt. Washburn.  Google Earth tells me that Mt. Washburn’s peak is roughly 10,200 feet above sea level.  The road below the peak is just a few feet short of 9,000.  The day before, when I was in western South Dakota just about to cross in to Wyoming, the readout on the rental car dashboard said the outside temperature was 104º F.  The next morning below Mt. Washburn:

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

34º F, snowing hard enough to be accumulating on 15 June.  A 70 degree temperature drop in about 18 hours and 300 miles.  What a country, as the philosopher Y. Smirnov said.

I made it down from the pass and the snow turned to a steady, but not heavy rain.  Low clouds revealed only the lower reaches of the mountains, but the view across the lush green valleys was spectacular.  Out west the highway engineers are not particularly big fans of guardrails, so my attention was on driving at this point to the exclusion of picture taking.  I headed out the west entrance to the park to the town of West Yellowstone, WY, where I had a decent, but uninspired lunch.

After lunch I took about a twenty minute detour to Henry’s Lake, ID (see first picture above) simply because I had never been to Idaho, and quite possibly will never be in this part of the US again.  One of the slightly silly motivations for this trip, aside from the soothing effects of being in the American West, was to check off several states that I had not yet visited.  Idaho was right up near the top of the list of the lower 48 that I didn’t really expect to ever get to.  I could not pass up the opportunity and since hiking and camping were ruled out by the steady rainfall, what better use did I have for a half hour?

I drove, pulled over at an overlook on the side of the highway, took my picture of the mountains overlooking the lake and this other one in West Yellowstone of a sign that I don’t expect to ever see in Memphis.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

I re-entered the park and turned south to visit the geysers.  Without leaving the paved road, you see umpteen steam vents right alongside the road, just back a little bit in the woods and up on hillsides.  I had just enough geology classes in college to know the basic cause of all this steaming water rising from the ground, and in this case the knowledge is not comforting.  Not far beneath the surface of this place on earth is a giant pool of magma.  Liquid rock.

This is more than just a volcano, it is a thin spot in the crust that allows the molten core of the earth to nearly breach the surface.  [Yes, I know that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure sounds more dramatic.]  And thousands of us come here intentionally to walk around on this thin spot just above red-hot melted rock and hissing steam, assuming “What could possibly go wrong?”

Fortunately, today nothing did go wrong.  I finally got to the southern part of the park and pulled in to the vast parking lot at the Old Faithful Lodge.  More people were walking away from the geysers than toward them so I assumed that Old Faithful had just finished erupting.  Just as well for my purposes.  I found a completely vacant bench with a good sight line to the main attraction and sat down to scribble my notes in my little book that I carry in my back pocket.

After about a half hour of peace and quiet, and no rain, the benches around me started filling up.  About this time a tourist family sat down on the bench beside me.  All the younger members of the group plopped down heavily beside me, leaving an older woman (mom, grand mom?) standing.  I wasn’t keen on listening to their loud commentary on why they had to wait for the next eruption, so I gave my seat to the left out woman and moved down the line to a less crowded seat on the edge of the raised boardwalk and resumed my scribbling in peace.

By the time Old Faithful started making her preliminary spurts, rumbles and hisses, even this part of the area was filled with tourists.  I actually heard one young man (not a child but a twenty-something) ask those around him why there was a range of times when the next eruption would occur and not a scheduled show-time.  Before the full-blown eruption was finished I couldn’t take any more of the loud, inane commentary from those around me and left to go back to my car.

I crossed the park from west to east, passing along the northern shore of Yellowstone Lake.  I didn’t know of this lake before I got here and was impressed by its size – about 15 miles east to west and 18 miles north to south.  There are spectacular mountains lining the south shore and very large steam vents rising from the water at the western edges of the lake.  Quite dramatic and probably more so on a clear sky day.

From the north shore of the lake I made my way to the east entrance to the park.  Might as well take a different route back to Billings to see new places, so I aimed for Cody, WY.  The east entrance to Yellowstone sits at about 7,000 feet above sea level (MSL).  Cody is about 47 miles east if you could go in a straight line, and the downtown area sits at about 5,000 feet MSL.

Almost the entire route from Yellowstone to Cody is in the dramatic gorge of the North Fork of the Shoshone River.  The rushing river is rarely out of sight from the highway and the speed of the water as it makes the descent has carved very steep, jagged cliffs on either side.  This is a very fun, winding, steep road to drive when you are not pinned in behind a camper or timid driver.  47 miles is the straight line distance but I would not be surprised if the road miles are nearly double that.  I also would not be surprised if my actual achieved gas mileage was far better than 50 mpg, since it is 2,000 feet downhill the entire way.

Cody is another of the nice little cities where the locals wear boots and cowboy hats with no trace of irony.  On the western entrance to town was what I at first assumed to be the high school football stadium.  Nope.  This was the town rodeo arena, complete with high grandstands, most of which were under roof.  And that roof was probably more for protection from the sun than from rain, but I’m just guessing about that.

After a nice dinner at a chop house it was only an hour and a half drive back to Billings and another solid night’s sleep.  The following day, Saturday, I awoke to steady rain and temperatures in the mid-50s F.  I turned on the World Cup match of that morning and watched from bed, falling in and out of sleep throughout the morning.  By mid-day I the rain had not let up and temperature had not risen so I declared it a rest day.  I watched soccer most of the day, went out for fast food take-out early afternoon and did not venture out until early evening when the rain had finally let up.

Billings has a very nice area of six or eight blocks downtown where the older buildings have been redeveloped into stylish restaurants and micro-breweries.  It is also set up to be pedestrian friendly with ample cross walks that appear to give pedestrians right of way over cars.  I found a cider mill that appeared to have been a warehouse across from the train station.  The restaurant retained the old structure but it was kitted out in sleek modern furnishings.  Somehow the two elements did not clash.  More importantly the food and ciders were delicious and once again, the staff were extremely friendly and cheerful.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

[Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, Billings, MT]

Sunday dawned technically, but not actually.  The darkness merely progressed into gloom as the rain had returned even worse.  I ditched the plan to relocate to Jackson Hole in the Grand Tetons and decided to leave late and leisurely and make a short day heading back east.

Not far east of Billings is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Park.  The hill and the stone monument atop it are visible from Interstate 90 in the broad river valley.  Less than five minutes from the interstate I am in the parking lot walking up the hill to the monument and historical markers.  I have been in many state and national parks that commemorate the bravery, heroism and sacrifices made in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  They are somber, but inspiring places.  This was the first National Park that made me mad.  I left angry that the vainglorious stupidity of one man could cause this much waste, pain and suffering.  I suppose those who steadily promoted him and gave him additional commands bear some responsibility, but the poor soldiers who were under his orders deserved better.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The markers in the foreground are not headstones.  Lower down the hill, in the center of the picture are about 260 graves of the civilians and soldiers who died here.  The native Americans, a gathering of three different tribes, were camped en mass in the river valley in the background of this picture.  They suffered only about 40 casualties.  The white markers in the foreground are the location of fallen US troops and civilians as determined by a team of archaeologists after a wildfire cleared this area a few decades ago.  The marker in the lower center with the black blotch on it is where G.A. Custer himself fell.

A bit more than 260 miles east of Billings put me in Moorcroft, WY, just far enough south of the Devil’s Tower to be out of the tourist priced zone.  The next day I awoke early and walked next door to Donna’s Diner for breakfast.  I’m pretty sure my waitress was Donna.  Everyone in the place knew her, as well as each other.  I stood out as the only stranger in the place.  A good country breakfast almost made up for the Bates’ Motel experience of the previous night and then I was on the road early, as I knew this was a day chock full of unproductive progress toward home.

An hour’s drive north on US and State highways brought me through mildly hilly country until, topping a hill this popped into view.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Devil’s Tower is real and was not just a prop or special effect in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  It was dramatic because it didn’t creep up on you from far away.  You climb a hill and it isn’t there and then as you crest the hill, it suddenly pops into view only a couple of miles away.  The drama lessens as you approach it, however.  It is a dramatic structure with near vertical walls.  This is, if I recall correctly, the congealed plug of a now dormant volcano where everything but this cold magma has long since eroded away.  But from the base it is relatively puny by western geological standards.  It is not imposingly vast like a mountain, but visually interesting all the same.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

From here I set off on another, longer silly detour to check off one more state from my list of the unvisiteds.  North Dakota was a three hour’s drive from here, but when am I ever again going to be three hours from North Dakota?  So Bowman, ND, became the next waypoint on this zig-zag day.

North Dakota is a mildly hilly, lush green state in June.  Every bit of land that I saw was either cultivated crops or rich pasture land.  Like its cousin to the south, North Dakota cows outnumber humans by a substantial margin.  The only thing lacking is trees.  They exist, but in stands of five or six here and five or six in a clump a few miles away.

By mid-afternoon I was back in South Dakota, slightly hillier and slightly more trees.  Same preponderance of cows though.  By nightfall I was in Mitchell, SD, in the eastern third of the state and again slept as in a coma.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

One unexpected pleasure of this trip was a flash-back to childhood.  I did not know that Sinclair gas stations still existed.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

That green dinosaur mascot was a favorite of mine in the 1960s.  Years later when I was a bit older, I was again amused to make the association between this friendly green dinosaur and the mythical source of oil and gas being decomposed dinosaurs.

From Mitchell I made one last overnight push to cross Iowa, a short detour into Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas and finally across the bridge back into Memphis.

Recap

3,852 miles in six and one half days

Six new states visited:  South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Nebraska

Remaining unvisited:  Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Ohio, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut

RIP AB

I have no admiration of celebrities.  Quite the opposite.  But the news of Anthony Bourdains’s death has had me teary eyed for hours today.  I like to cook; I am not a chef.  I like to write; I have no bestsellers.  I like to travel.  Well, there he and I were brothers.  Rest easy my never met friend.  Thank you.

The End of Days (90 to be precise)

Since my last post I have twice broken my camera and semi-voluntarily lost internet connectivity.  Hence, the radio silence.  In condensed form, here is a recap of what I’ve seen and been up to since you last heard from me.  Sorry, but the pics that accompany this are from my cell phone.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

This is a street (actually a calle), not an ally as it looks to you and me. This part of town is referred to as Centro and is where I focused my home hunting.  On these streets are shops, restaurants, lawyers offices and the entrances to apartment buildings.  I have yet to see a single family home in the old parts of town.  There used to be some, but they are now called palaces and are either government offices or museums.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Nearby the location of the previous photo is Calle Concepcion with a scooter passing by.  Cars occasionally squeeze by.  The black bollards lining the edges of the calle keep vehicles from squashing pedestrians against the wall.  Even on the larger streets cars are outnumbered by scooters, buses and taxis.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

As in other places I have been, in the old part of town the street signs are posted about ten feet up on the side of buildings at intersections.  Not much use if you are driving a car, but sometimes very amusing if you are a pedestrian and bother to look up.  This is the intersection of Calle Concepcion and Calle Ancha de la Virgen.  Ancha means broad or wide, so this intersection makes me smile every time I go by.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Tapas at Los Marianos.  I was on C/ Concepcion (C/ is the abbreviation of Calle as St. is for Street) to eat at a restaurant that specializes in seafood.  I thought this was a good idea for two reasons.  First, nearly everywhere you go in Granada and probably in the wider area, pork dominates the menu.  Pork fifteen different ways and possibly a chicken dish or two.  Also, the Mediterranean is 35 miles south of here so seafood might be a little fresher than I’m used to.

Someone told me the name of the shellfish above but I don’t remember.  It basically is an asparagus shaped mollusk in a tubular shell.  It is, more importantly, very good.  Granada is one of the dwindling number of locations that still serves tapas.  You order a glass of wine or beer and you get a small plate of food along with it.  Two things make this a good deal.  A nice glass of local red wine costs three euros ($3.75).  Also, the food and wine are very good.  This would be a $10 or $12 glass of wine and $6 or more for the food.  But, they didn’t have to put them on a boat and send them across an ocean so they are local, fresh and delicious.  A dainty eater can eat dinner every night for six euros or less than $7.50.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Another tapa and the miracle of Spain.  Friends from South America and from the UK immediately agreed with me when I told them, “I have hated olives my entire life but they are good here.”  We all suspect that something in packing them for overseas shipment gives them the bitter, tannin taste we all dislike.  Here they are fruity with a bit of citrus flavor.  Appropriate since olives are fruit and convenient since outside the cities you are never out of sight of olive groves.  They stretch to the horizon in all directions.  A bowl of olives is a very common tapa to receive here.

Tapa means cap or top, which puzzled me until I heard the following origin myth of tapas.  I like the story but I have no idea if it is true.  One day long ago the King set out on horseback to survey his domain.  In late afternoon the royal party was hot, tired and thirsty so they stopped at the next inn the came across.  The innkeeper recognized the King and was horrified to see a fly buzzing at the lip of the King’s glass of beer so he grabbed a snack that he had prepared for another customer and set it on the rim of the glass to keep the bug out.  The King, unaware of the fly, thought it was a treat for him (lagniappe as it is known in New Orleans) and introduced the “custom” to other parts of his realm.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The Alhambra.  What everyone comes to Granada to see.  The Alhambra sits atop a hill that rises about 600 to 800 feet above Centro and the main part of town.  The hill is actually the farthest extension of the Sierra Nevada mountains into the plain that stretches to the north and west of Granada.  I once read a description that it appears to be an ocean liner made of rock that ran aground into a town.  The hill is not that tall, but it is very steep because two rivers run along either side of it carving steep ravines.

Julius Caesar put a fortress here when he came to town 2,300 years ago.  When the Berbers of North Africa got here in 727 AD, and the Arabs a little later to take credit for their vassal’s conquest, they recognized the defensive value of the site and planted the Alcazaba (fortress) on the site of the Roman fort.  An invader would first face rivers to ford on either side of the hill, then a very steep, wooded hill to climb, and only then would you get to the bottom of the vertical walls of the complex.  While the invaders were catching their breath from the climb in their armor, the Moors were probably dropping boulders on their head and pouring down boiling oil.  No wonder that I don’t think this complex was ever conquered.

The emirs, recognizing also that Granada is really hot in the summer, put their palace and gardens behind the Alcazaba on even higher ground to take advantage of every degree of cooling they could get by altitude.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Palace of Carlos V inside the Alhambra complex.  Isabella and Ferdinand finally reconquista’d Granada, the last capital of the Moorish occupiers of Spain, in 1492.  Carlos V was a direct descendant of Isabella and Ferdinand.  The lucky boy was also descended from the Habsburgs and the Burgundians.  Once he united these three substantial kingdoms he decided to build himself a little palace on the site of his grandparents’ triumph.

Completed in the early 16th century he is said to have arrived to inspect his nearly completed new palace, planted provocatively in the middle of the previous rulers’ palace complex.  The story goes that he came, he saw, he harrumphed and left, never to return.  A substantiating tidbit is that the palace had no roof until 1957.  To be honest, up close it is fairly ugly.  The exterior is brutishly coarse, not poor craftsmanship, but by design.  Also the lower portion and the upper portion of the exterior are noticeably different architectural styles.  The one clever, interesting bit is that from the exterior it is a standard rectangular structure with neat 90 degree corners.  Inside is a large, round, open air courtyard that is a bit disorienting (in a good way) when you first enter.  It takes a moment to realize that you didn’t enter a round building.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

More Alhambra.  More snow-capped mountains on the horizon.  More cowbell.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Yesterday was a local holiday.  The best I can translate the name is the festival of the cross.  This is a town with cathedrals, monasteries and convents on every block and a few more tucked in on the small calles out back, so religious festivals occur regularly.  This one was interesting because men and women wear traditional clothing, the thin-legged pants for men with bright red sashes for belts and very frilly, bright colored dresses for the women.  The children are almost all dressed this way.  Even the women not dressed up wear bright red flowers in their hair.

I met up with a group of friends at 3 in the afternoon in the Realejo to walk from one event site to another.  The Realejo is the former Jewish quarter and sits on the hill just below the Alhambra.  There are no modern streets or avenues in the Realejo, just like the Albaicin.  Cobblestones, nothing straight, nothing level and certainly nothing parallel or perpendicular.  In other words, a great place to walk around and look at stuff.  Many buildings that are not normally open are elaborately decorated and open to the public this one day each year.  Everyone takes the day off and walks the streets to see the venues.  Oh, and also to stop in the taverns for a tapa and a beer or wine before moving on to the next site.  My group was eight, so everywhere we stopped we got nearly one of each variety of that tavern’s tapas.

The picture above is not a great shot, but it shows riders in traditional dress with their horses elaborately rigged in one of the hundreds of small plazas all over town.  From my kitchen window I saw several groups of horsemen and women clopping down the middle of my busy street as if they were cars.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Guitar shop in the Realejo.  This guy makes guitars and other stringed instruments by hand.  I would not be surprised if the guitar maker is merely the latest generation of a family business.  A British woman in my group has a friend in South America, a professional musician, who buys all his instruments from this very shop.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Inside said guitar shop.  Not a great view with the glare on the glass case, but these instruments were beautiful.  To the left was another display case of violins or violas.  No telling what all is in the back.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

And more prosaically, mi cocina/lavandaria.  Everything here is on a smaller scale.  The entire city is small in area because everyone lives in a ten-story building.  Apartments are small, rooms are small, cars are small, hotel rooms are small.  I have yet to be in a bathroom in which I did not bang both elbows simultaneously on opposite walls.  This kitchen is small by our standards, and all the appliances are smaller, but it is fully functional.  The one nice thing that is not small is that window.  It is over six feet wide and just under five feet tall.  It opens horizontally, so when I am cooking and the weather is nice I have a three by five open space next to me.  I’m on the first floor (one floor above the street level) so people are walking by on the sidewalk directly below me.  Across the street in front of the retail stores is a wide paved area.  While adults are sitting in front of the two taverns their kids are romping around playing.

On the street level of my building, just outside my front door, is a fruteria.  Despite the name they don’t just sell fruit.  Every day they have fresh fruit and vegetables delivered.  They also carry spices and basics and some junk food.  In the next building to my right is a supermarket.  Again small but they have nearly everything I need.  If they don’t have it there are two other, larger supermarkets a ten minute walk in the other direction.  I literally often purchase my dinner minutes before I start cooking it.  I spent 3.30 euros this morning at the fruiteria for onions, tomatoes, a big green pepper of some sort, lemons and carrots that will keep me through this weekend.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

That is an oven with a whole chicken roasting this morning.  When I started looking on line at apartment listings in town, I groaned every time I saw a kitchen picture and saw no oven below the stove but only what I thought was a toaster oven.  This thing roasts, broils, does both at the same time and also something else that I can’t decipher the symbol for.  I have make a pork tenderloin and now a whole chicken in this thing and they came out just fine.  Sorry, no whole turkey for Thanksgiving here though.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Stove, countertop beside the window with chorizo and garlic hanging from a rack.  That white thing below the countertop is my cloths washer.  It really is tiny but it takes forever to do a load.  They come out very clean though.  There is a dial with about twenty symbols around it and no words to say what each symbol means.  I just keep trying different settings each time to see if one is better than another.  Eduardo showed me the roof of the building.  He intended to show me there were clothes lines available for drying, since he saw I had strung climbing rope between two carabiners in my unused bedroom.  What I saw was my first, spectacular, unobstructed view of the snow capped mountains just ten miles away.  When the weather improves I may have a small cocktail party up there or at least drag a chair, a book and a glass of wine up there for sunset.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Fruit and veggies from downstairs.  The tree outside my kitchen window is just a tree.  Below my office window are orange trees.  Orange trees grow all over town, especially in the parks and plazas.  I am starting to get used to the sight of oranges squashed flat in the street or browning beside the curb.  They are beyond ubiquitous.  Even small town Spain is not beyond pointless legislation.  I was told early on that it is strictly against the law to pick fruit from these trees.  Then my friend continued, “But you wouldn’t want to any way because that variety is bitter not sweet and is absolutely horrible.”

This is not, however, the fruit the town is named for.  I have yet to see a pomegranate tree (bush?) although I hear the fruit is widely available later in the year and is quite popular.  Granada is Spanish for pomegranate.  And that sounds much better than living in Naranja.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The view from my friend Kay’s terrace on the 9th floor (10th in US terminology) of her building in central Granada.  This is a higher rent district than where I live.  The terrace is bigger than her living room and has a spectacular panorama.  I’m guessing that this is a comfortable place to hang out nine months a year.  Winter is neither long nor harsh, but there is no comfortable place in the city in August.  Several people told me that last year they got above 50°C (122°F to you and me) more than once.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Tapas at Rhin Barril II during one of our weekly TENGO get-togethers. TENGO is one of two ex-pat groups, although everyone is a member of both groups.  More olives.  The thing behind the olives that looks like a dirty scoop of ice cream is a creamy potato salad-like dish sprinkled with chives and paprika that is served all over town.  My faulty memory tells me this is called a salad russe (Russian Salad).

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-26,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Casa Colon was one the first places I found when I got to Granada.  At off hours they let me have a four-top all to myself as the smaller tables had high stools for seats and my back objects to those. Tonight I snagged a table right beside the river.

From my sidewalk table beside the rapidly flowing Genil is a view of the Realejo bathed by sunset.  This picture was shot at 9:09 pm.  It didn’t start getting dark until after 9:45 pm.  The Genil is usually a bare trickle in the middle of a wide concrete channel as it crosses town.  The river flows down out of the Sierra Nevada (“snowy mountains” I recently learned) and is extraordinarily swollen this spring due to the coincidence of snow melt and the runoff of the first-time-in-a-decade rainfall we have had this year.  It makes a soothing rushing sound while you are sitting here sipping wine and nibbling tapas.  Not at all an unpleasant place to live.

But tomorrow I must start the return journey to the US so as not to overstay my tourist entry and also to complete my residency visa to return here for good.  Granada already feels like home.