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Published: December 4th 2015
Córdoba was my first real venture into Andalucia. With little more than my purse and favorite scarf (which I would later replace in Córdoba) I set out an hour train ride north of Málaga. And the door to the magic of this region opened.
Cordoba served as an important part of the Islamic Empire beginning in the 8th century. The Muslims established an impressive and rich provincial capital subordinate to the Caliphate in Damascus. It was there that that I encountered the remnants of previous civilizations (Roman, Islamic, and finally Spanish) that chose to make this temperate beautiful land their cultural center.
At moments, when wandering through the narrow maze of the center of the city by the Mezquita- Catedral, I felt like a living relic of the history that they were trying to preserve; like a part of the past come to life. An Arab girl, who has family that lived for centuries in the Levant, seeking a piece of her own identity through the history of Andalucía. I was met with awe and little fascination, and I had been complimented more times than I can count this trip. Odd because of how tired I felt yet absolutely
thrilled that I had the chance to visit this region. I didn’t blend in as much as I had expected, and although I am thoroughly half Arab half Latin (most of my ancestry traced back to Iberia) I was seen as an Other. But not in a bad way. In a romanticized, enchanted sort of manner, the kind that once again made me realize that I am associated and perceived in how I look, and I carry that look with pride.
Nearly everyone I met in Córdoba was phenomenally nice, and I learned a bit about the area through conversation. I think that’s one of the best things about traveling- a little more than the historic sites (which you can Google image)- it’s the conversations you have with strangers, the scents that cannot be transferred through screens, the faint sound of music and conversation. It’s the images in the town come to life.
As I was walking past little shops with trinkets and regalitos, I paused at a display of little cards with flamenco dancers: their puffy skirts clothed out of the paper cards. I remember when I was a little girl my mother gave me two cards
like those- one with a pretty dancer in a green dress, and one in a yellow dress. I remember staring at the cards, feeling the cloth, and studying the letters that I couldn’t quite put together yet…
Sevilla, my mother said. It says Sevilla.
Where I am headed to tomorrow.
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