Location: Motril & Granada, Spain

Over the course of the previous day and into the night, the seas and winds calmed down enough to motor at a brisk eight knots. We were racing as fast as possible toward Motril to catch our bus tour of Alhambra. As if all the stars aligned, we pulled onto the dock at exactly 07:48 local time, and our bus pulled up to the vessel promptly at 07:55. It was so well coordinated it seemed suspiciously perfect. Our guide Rafael was an older gentleman who had spent most of his life traveling and researching Archaeology. He spent the hour-long ride to Granada telling us about the region, it’s history, and all of the recent initiatives to make Spain a renewable energy leader. All along the mountains across the coast can be seen as a myriad of wind turbines dotting the horizon. Spain has the 2nd and 3rd largest wind farms in the world behind California. There is a great deal of national pride in Spain the radiates from any Spaniard conversing about their country. It is nice to see people so proud of their cultural diversity. Spain has Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, and Iberian/Roman heritage, and all throughout the city of Granada, one can find symbols reminding the people that unity of the cultures is the foundation of the country. The large fountain in the center of the city has four women holding up a plate overflowing with water and containing pomegranates. Rafael said the four women represent the four cultures supporting the city, and the pomegranates are where the city derives its name. Granado in Spanish means a pomegranate tree where Granada means pomegranate.

The Alhambra was the last Moorish stronghold to fall before the Catholics managed to force the Moors out of Spain. Built of the red clay found in the area, the fortress, as is seen today, appears to be red. However, it was originally whitewashed and only turned back to red over six centuries. Restoration is ongoing, but the palaces are mostly intact, and the artwork and architecture are a wonderful spectacle. The fountains and gardens were engineered to keep the palaces cool in the intense summer heat, and also designed to allow guests to peer into the vivid reflections from the intentionally black pools as a reminder that Allah is above. Evidence of Catholic, Roman, and Islamic influences populate the walls around every corner. It was a fantastic day of exploration coupled with history, and it felt like a perfect reward after a challenging passage.
The trip back allowed for the students and staff to experience another cultural staple of Spain; The siesta. Light snoring and a gentle ebbing and flowing of a chorus of tired breaths resonated over the hum of the bus’s engines. It was resting well deserved and needed before a night out in Motril. The students enjoyed a lovely hot stone meal at a local restaurant and met an interesting local to share a few stories with. It has been a long but epic adventure these past few days, and spirits are high. I hope all is well back home.