TRAVELOGUE: If you’ve been following our blog, you will be aware of many of the great things the city of Granada has to offer. Two in particular are the neighborhood of Sacromonte and the preponderance of sugar packets.
Sacromonte abuts the Albayzin, its main thoroughfare marked by a statue of Chorrohumo, a Roma from Granada who guided visitors through the city in the 1950s. When you visit, just make your way to Camino del Sacromonte, locate the statue and then follow the burro up the street.
Many of the Roma of Granada continue to live in Sacromonte. Troglodytes are common, due to the many cave dwellings. Free-spirited Western Europeans, young and broke, live there as well, locally known as pies negros, because they wear no shoes and take no showers. And of course, folk going about their daily lives can be spotted regularly.
The name “Sacromonte” comes from an impressive attempt to convince the ruling Catholics at the time (late 16th century) of the legitimacy of the morisco population by linking Islam with Christianity through the manufacture of lead plates that were placed in a broken down minaret and that were discovered in —- [Sorry about that. My apologies. If you are actually interested in the story of the lead plates you can find relevant information in the book Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism, 2nd Edition, by Robert W. Preucel and Stephen A. Mrozowski.]
Eventually, the Abbey of Sacromonte was built in the 17th century on top of Valparaíso hill, providing excellent views of the Valley of Sacromonte and the ever-present Alhambra.
ANECDOTE: One weekend day after we had made our way to the Abadía, we avoided the paved road and instead ventured home via sheep and goat paths that meandered over the hills and gulleys north of the Rio Darro. As so happened, we ran into some Spanish friends as we crested a hill. They had just been celebrating Julia’s birthday at a secret pizza cafe hidden in the caves of Sacromonte. We followed their directions: go down and up two ravines, take the right fork toward San Miguel Alto, and head straight on for the blue tarp.
Done. The owner of the cafe was an ex-pat Neapolitan pizza maker, who was living in a cave and making pizza in an open-air oven on a hillside overlooking: (You are allowed one guess as to what the secret pizza cafe hidden in a cave is facing.) the Alhambra. The cafe was clandestine because it was illegal, lacking any of the numerous permits required to operate an eating establishment in Granada. Still, you could purchase cold beer, hot pizza and then go home and tell everyone you knew about the secret pizza cafe.
CULTURAL OBSERVATION: Though we saw the Starbuck’s coffee chain in big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, these establishments just didn’t exist anywhere else in Spain. Fortunately, every town, bus station, beach-side cafe, village, hiking lodge, sports center, movie theater, and gas station appeared to possess a fully-charged espresso machine and the opportunity to purchase a café con leche at a moment’s notice. This we did. These coffees usually cost no more than the equivalent of a dollar, and often less. You could choose to have your coffee served in either un vaso or una taza. You could order normal, grande, or con hielo. And once ordered, you could sit at your table for 5 minutes or 5 hours and no one would ask you to leave.
Every coffee came with a sugar packet. Actually, you were given a sugar packet with your fresh-squeezed orange juice, your hot chocolate, your cold chocolate, your tea, and your mint lemonade. Here is a selection of some of our favorite sugar packets.
CONCLUSION: Sacromonte, the Albayzin, Granada and Spain: sweet, with or without sugar.