Spain

Spain’s Blurred Cultural Divides (or how Newt Gingrich can’t even get xenophobia right)

The Alhambra, from Mirador San Nicolás

The Alhambra of Granada: Muslim Nasrid Fortress; Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's palace; Catholic churches and ex-mosques in view. Photo taken outside the Saint Nicholas church in the Albayzin "Muslim quarter" of the city.

Newt Gingrich states,

“The proposed “Cordoba House” overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites.  For example, most of them don’t understand that “Cordoba House” is a deliberately insulting term.  It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.” [Emphasis mine.]

I’ll overlook Gingrich’s gross overstatement of the historical facts (this excellent post by a medieval historian refutes his statements in detail) and get to the more glaring irony in his statement. Say hello to the “world’s third-largest mosque complex,” that symbolic victory over Christian Spain (which before the conquest was neither unified in religion nor statehood):

Yep, that just makes ya tremble in fear of Islamist conquerors, doesn’t it? Newt Gingrich uses Córdoba as an example of the Muslim destruction of Western or Christian culture, yet the very building in question stands today not as a mosque, but a cathedral. (Ironically, the world’s third-largest Christian complex lies a couple of hours’ drive away in Seville – a mosque converted into a cathedral after the Catholics conquered the Muslim-ruled Al-Andalus.) Continue reading

Transitioning

Sorry posting here has slowed down… I’ve been running all around Europe too fast to write it all down! I still plan to finish writing about Morocco and write about my trips to Liverpool, Amsterdam and Prague, but I figured I’d break from chronological order to comment on more current stuff.

This week was the last week of my study abroad program. Finals were low-stress, and thanks to having two of them early, I finished my last exam Monday afternoon. So I’ve had most of the week to get some good time in with my friends from the program and appreciate the awesome life I’ve had here.

I have extended my trip by about two weeks because I have three friends coming out to visit me. We’ve rented an apartment here in Granada, so I can spend a bit showing them all my Granadino stomping grounds, and then we’re headed to Valencia and Barcelona, possibly with some side trips along the way. It’s going to be totally awesome.

I’m pretty glad that I have people from Colorado coming out here before I return there myself; I’ve just begun to realize just how different it’s going to feel to be back in familiar territory, yet as a changed person. It’ll be nice to have a bit of home come out here first to ease my re-entry to American life.

Last night I said goodbye to almost all of my friends from the program – most of them flew back to the States today. I’m never good with goodbyes, especially with large amounts of people at once. Today, I packed most of my bags and so my last night in my host family’s house will be the typical “sleep in a bare bedroom” thing that I’ve come to know in the “Moving Day Eves” of past years.

After about 2 weeks with my friends here, I will fly back to Colorado on June 6. I will spend a day on my own in Dublin before ending my European (and partly African) adventure.

Kicking Travel Into High Gear

Tonight I head out for six days in Morocco! While I haven’t done a ton of homework on the country before heading out, I know I’m in for a lot of firsts:

  • First time in Africa
  • First time in a (currently) Arab nation
  • First time in a country whose primary and secondary languages are completely foreign to me (oof)
  • CAMELS!

I’m going with a large group from my study abroad program – everything is pre-organized and we’ll be herded around for most of the trip, unlike our Spanish excursions. I see this as a good thing for my first trip. I’m really looking forward to Moroccan food as well.

This week was my midterms week, and I have 9 weeks left here in Europe. In those 9 weeks, I plan to be hitting:

  • Morocco
  • The Alpujarras (once or twice more)
  • Amsterdam (with 8-hour layover in Liverpool, England)
  • Prague
  • Valencia
  • Barcelona (perhaps a night in Ibiza?)
  • Madrid

I only have three unplanned weekends left, and I’m already tempted to book one more trip – London? Bruges? Brussels? All I know is that from here out, time is going to zoom by.

Alhambra Photos

Finally got to go to the Alhambra today… We had some blue skies peek out, which was very lucky (it’s been very cloudy and rainy most days).

I’m not going to post this set of  photos here on my blog because they’re better viewed in full detail on my Picasa album. I suggest hitting the “Slideshow” link to get even better detail on it. Check ’em out here.