Monday, January 12
“Córdoba, lejana y sola…” (Córdoba, distant and alone) begins the famous poem by Federico García Lorca, and I quote it to the ticket collector; “No,” he smiles. “Muy cerca” (Very close). Cheesy, I know. But I love the universal familiarity with poetry in Hispanic cultures.
Córdoba is the home of the “Mezquita,” the Great Mosque, a must-see for our class. But first we’ll visit the ruins of Medina Al Azhara. We are staying in a modest hostal in the old city, on a street named “Consolación.” The taxis have to let us off a couple of blocks away because Consolación is too narrow for them to navigate. The hostal is pretty, with a typical, tiled patio in the middle of the building, but it does offer a stark contrast to the large, modern hotels we’ve been staying in. (Sam asks Steve, “Did we run out of money?”) Some rooms are completely redone; the men, however, are sharing a triple that is less than luxe. But times are good; the city is welcoming; food is nearby. We eat at an outdoor cafe with heaters lit and friendly servers and enjoy the warmth of Andalucía (just about 70 degrees). Favorite new foods? Students are loving “ensaladilla rusa” – a rich potato salad with (cooked) carrots and tuna, salmorejo – a cold tomato soup served with bits of Spanish ham and bread, and roasted eggplant with honey.