There aren’t many better offerings on arrival at a hostel than, ‘Hey man, after you’ve checked in do you want to have a smoke, kick back and listen to some Creedence?’
Blake, a shaggy haired hippy from Wisconsin who sounded like William H. Macy in ‘Fargo’ had decided to start a ‘rooting tooting’ life in the Arabic jewel of AndalucÃa, Granada. He left America’s cheese capital for sun drenched days spent smoking Morocco’s finest beneath the shadow of the mighty compounds which make up the architectural gem the Alhambra.
Ramble tamble had kicked in, searing country guitars alongside John Fogarty’s unique vocals creating a fantastic ambience in the traditional white stoned hostel situated at the peak of the old Arabic quarter. We listened to the dude’s favourite band and took hits from a tomahawk pipe. An item bought for practical reasons as well as aesthetic, ‘If anyone tries to take it off me, I will scalp them. I’d love to wear a little belt with a series of shrunken heads. The stoner vigilante, striking a blow for the lazy and forgetful. Whatever I just said sounded really good I just wish I could remember what it was.’
The dope had been bought from a bracelet maker called ‘Dos Lunas’. He claimed to be an English teacher despite the fact he couldn’t speak any. He only had two teeth and would often wheeze violently and cough blood into a stained hanky, something I feel may have hampered his enunciation and diction. Out of his Donny Osmond like mouth came another tale that he had twelve different children to twelve different women and that after he’d had his thirteenth, his sowing of the moon seed would be over and he would wade out into the sea, let the water envelope him and drown.
The two moon’s hash added to what was a great first evening of blues music and storytelling. After discussing how Janis Joplin’s huskiness could touch your heart we naturally came onto the personality traits of dogs. ‘You don’t appear to give dogs much credit Chris. They understand alot more than you think. I once humiliated a dog. There was a gathering at a friend’s house, we were all sat round smoking, drinking and listening to the Flying Burrito Brothers. The chorus of their big hit was just beginning to kick in when the dog started to wail. We all burst out laughing. The dog was horrified. It slunk over to the corner of the room, with its tail between its legs put its paws over its eyes and began to sob. We’d embarrassed and shamed him. He chose never to sing again.’
The Granada leg of the trip had a real Yankee flavour to it. I met Texas Mike on the train from Cordoba; he asked me if I was German. ‘You look Bavarian, you know kinda hairy.’ He did this lots of times whilst I was in his company; he’d walk up to anyone in the street and attempt to guess their nationality. He got everyone wrong, his perception for race was diabolical – he went up to a black woman and asked whether she was Russian. I was envious of his unbridled confidence but felt it could have been put to better use than simply finding out where someone was from. He could have been like Hitch if he’d continued the conversation beyond the person’s roots. Just before coming on the trip he said how he’d been in prison but wouldn’t say why and that he had 3,000 Euros on him and he needed to spend them all within his three day stay. He bought all my drinks and meals. It appeared to me that crime seemed to pay, and it spoke with a Southern drawl.
Granada is an amazing place but I find it incredibly challenging to write about events or places in a positive way, it just isn’t natural to me. It doesn’t flow as it should. If I’m ranting it goes like a bastard. Bastards of course renowned for flowing well. Gaddafi for example could create cracking prose. I can’t do ahhh puppies licking my face while I lay in a marshmallow bath type writing. But it truly is a magical place unlike any I’ve visited before. The winding, maze like streets doused in history and cat piss, the smoke rising up from shisha bars and the sweet smell of smouldering hash combines with roasted garlic. On most nights the two would combine in my mouth to make my kisses taste slightly tasty with a sharp reminder than you should approach for a snog with caution.
The Arabic baths at first seemed expensive but it proved to be a couple of hours that provided a rare encounter with complete contentment. Coming from parents who have both suffered nervous breakdowns and towel obsessions I’ve inherited a fret tendency which could ruin a hedonistic Caligulan orgy, ‘Ooo I hope they get them stains out.’ Thoughts of impending doom are never too far away so for all this pessimism to dissipate was a joy. Any worries ebbed away into the ether as I lay in the hot water with Lucy in my arms. It was silent, and we stayed there still in this loving embrace for a good 15 minutes. Completely at peace. Beautiful. I didn’t even panic that one of us could fart in the water and ruin this blissful moment. Often a grave concern of mine when experiencing something pleasurable in a pool.