We docked at the southern Spanish city of Málaga today. On our previous trip here, this was our jumping-off place for Granada and the Alhambra. Today we chose instead to tour the hinterlands of Andalusia, and for the whole excursion we were enraptured with the sheer magnificence of the terrain. The name “Andalusia” was earlier something like “Vandaluz,” and comes from the name of the tribes of Vandals who settled here when the Romans left. Our course crossed and re-crossed the Guadalhorce River several times. This quiet, sleepy stream was given this name by the Moors, who were here for over 700 years until 1492. The name in Moorish means “River of Silence.” It is indeed a place of peace.
We began with a breakfast in a small country inn near Pizzara attached to a citrus grove with the delightful name “Juanito Orange.” Then we went for a wine tasting in the village of Álora at a winery that won the gold medal for Spanish wines last year. Finally we had a tapas lunch amid the grand mountains of El Chorro, the canyon that is officially called El Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes. The picturesque little village has only 75 residents. As though the grandeur of the mountains were not enough, it so happened that every few miles we came across Roman or Phoenician ruins. It amazes me that the folks here say, as though it is perfectly ordinary, “Oh, yes, down at the end of the block just past the drugstore is a wall. It’s not too old. It’s Phoenician but it only goes back about 2500 years. There’s one much older on my uncle’s farm.” For them it’s really no big deal. For me, it’s huge.
I had a nice conversation in Spanish with a couple here on vacation with their two young sons, aged 7 and 5. The family were about to catch the train back to their home in Granada. As this world cruise is winding down, it seems that the wonderful folks at Viking Ocean Cruises have saved the best for last.
Tonight we attempted to photograph Gibraltar as we passed.
1. Every government is like a company, but it is a monopoly. Every government wants you to think that it is doing the best possible job at managing the nation’s affairs. The fact is the United States government also makes that case, but when one travels outside the United States one sees other government that are actually doing a better job of managing its nation’s affairs than the United States government is doing.
2. The American notion of democracy does not work everywhere.
3. All people everywhere will use the resources available to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as best they can. No one culture is better than another.
4. It is a very Eurocentric view that one can “taste” Moorish culture by going to Spain. If one simply crosses into north Africa one finds that he can still bathe in Islamic culture.
The old Islamic culture is still thriving, is still beautiful, and is still viable in places like Oman, Abu Dabi, and the United Arab Emirates.Read more