As everyone who follows this blog knows by now, Peggy and I have been living in Granada for the past five months. We’ve been in Spain with our daughter, Maggie, our son-in-law, Kerry, and their five children Eva (14 years of age), Oscar (12), Orlando (10), Markandeya (7), and Sebastian (3).
Maggie’s family has been here on sabbatical so that our grandchildren might learn Spanish by attending school where only that language is spoken. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us.
Now Peggy and I are about to return to the States for February and March. We’ll spend most of that time in Florida, and then come back to Spain in April. Our plan is to remain here till the end of June. We’ll then fly on to Rome, where we’ll spend a month or so with our son Brendan’s family. (Brendan State Department assignment will have him living there for the next three years.)
In the meantime, very unexpected things have happened to me in Granada. Here we’ve been living in its Albaicin barrio overlooking the famous 13th century Islamic city, the Alhambra. We’ve walked part of the Camino de Santiago, along with traveling to Madrid (and its Prado Museum), to Bilbao (and its Guggenheim Museum), as well as driving to Tarifa (with its nearby Roman ruins), to Valencia, and Cadiz (which so reminded us both of Havana).
However, most unexpected of all have been some friendships I’ve made with cave dwellers and street musicians here in the Albaicin. I’ve already written about that here and here. My new friendships have introduced me to a way of life that I truly admire. With one cave dweller I’ve studied the “Mayan Bible” (the Popol Vuh) and have been introduced to Tarot (which I never thought I’d study, but which now greatly fascinates and benefits me).
The cave dwellers are constantly harassed by the police — or as they call them, “the puta policia” (or effing cops). Last week, those harassers once again invaded the caves, cut off their access to water, and destroyed the property of my friends and their neighbors — all in the name of “protecting” those concerned from their unhealthy way of life.
The other day, I attended a rally by about 200 cave dwellers and sympathizers in front of Granada’s City Hall (pictured above). Some have taken to wearing black nail polish on their left hands as a sign of solidarity with the Cuevistas. I surprised (and maybe scandalized) my family members by doing so myself.
In any case, immediately below, you’ll find an account of all this in another of my poor attempts at poetry. I wrote the “poem” so I’d never forget these people I’ve come to cherish and treasure.
Cave Dwellers and Cops in the Albaicin’s Plaza Larga (Jan. 27, 2023) Since coming to the Albaicin In Granada five months ago, Its Plaza Larga has drawn me in, Its cave dwellers have helped me grow. Yes, they all live in Cuevas Dug by gypsies and Moors They’re troglodytes and drifters Rebels all to their very pores. They’re committed to music Painting, poetry, and Life Smoking hash and drinking cervezas To peace and not the knife. . Yes, the Larga’s a place For outsiders like me They’re poor, ill-clad But happy Living NOW as all can see. One of them there Wears a jellabiya on Fridays And yells in a voice Much too loud. But no one’s upset by his antics Or his shouting at the crowd Instead, they roll eyes or support him. Ridicule’s never allowed. I’ve met a man there called Simon A street busker and shaman indeed He helps me with my Spanish Oblivious to any need Because he’s rich, you see Not with money, playthings, or goods But with time, wisdom, and kindness And absolute freedom from “shoulds.” There’s another Simon (I’ve met him). Much younger and from France There’s Ida from Denmark And Ramon from north Spain And Juan whose Traveler ancestors Set the Cuevas as their reign. There’s a girl from Somalia called Filas She’s dark, skinny, and profane. She’s friendly and kissy and cheerful Eats mushrooms and smokes in a chain. And I’ve met A young man they call ‘Cesco’ He’s moving here this fall From his home far away in Italia (Perhaps he’s the wisest of all). He’s a Bob Dylan scholar and tarotista (He did my Tarot today) He knows everything about Dylan “Desolation Row,” and what his cards say. So, I’m grateful to Andalusia For giving me a gift so unexpected, and so fine Of friendships with the Chusma It’s been like draughting aged wine. Yes, I love crossing borders With campaneros like these I’m grateful to Simon and the drifters Who do whatever they please. That is. . .. If not for the “Puta Policia” . . .. Anxious to show my friends who’s boss They harass them and fine them. They smash their guitars Understanding nothing about them As if coming from Mars They sack their poor Cuevas Burn their goods and possessions Interrupt their love making, Their meditation sessions. They render them homeless. As if that were good Can you imagine Cops destroying their food? But that’s the lot of drifters Living everywhere it seems. Of dropouts whose simple existence Challenges our bourgeois dreams. The system just can’t stand them Detesting their sight and smell So, it robs the poor of the little they have And sends them all to hell. I’d know nothing about this If not for Simon and friends If not for the Plaza Larga, Where singing never ends. If not for my new friendships If not for Tarot and song If not for gypsies and buskers If not for my stay here so long. So, despite the puta policia, I’m grateful to be here Learning from friends in the Plaza Larga May God remove their fear.