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Showing posts from June, 2015

Did Ibn Battuta Sleep there in Granada, Spain?

Somewhere in this "bride of Andalusian cities," one of the greatest travel-story meeting of minds took place. A rendezvous that seven years and a different continent later would give fruit to one of the best travel books ever written, Rihla (also know as A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling), perhaps the most accurate portrait of medieval life across the then-known world we have. On his round-the-world trip back from China, Ibn Battutah met his ghostwriter and local boy, Ibn Juzayy, in an unknown garden. Granada's not as old as most think, the Alhambra itself was then just a red castle and a dream in a young king's mind when Battutah gave it its nuptial title in 1350. The oldest Muslim building in the city isn't the superlative palace atop the hill, but the Corral del Carbon, which in its time served as a hotel for travelers and traders. Just maybe where the world's greatest traveler laid his head?


You Call it Tomato, I Call it Quasi-Legal

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

My wife and I spent some time living on the banks of the Mekong in a country that is known to most Spaniards as Roldan’s hideout. Back then, the first traffic lights were just going up and life moved at a pace that was reflected in that great river. I worked at a University, helping young Laos prepare to study abroad and also provided training for public school teachers. The Lao are some of the friendliest people on earth and my wife and I quickly built up a solid network of friends, both local and foreign. Our social life was either spent by the river drinking beer with icecubes, an acquired taste in the heat and humidity and absence of refrigeration, or having improvised barbeques under the mango trees of our courtyard. In a context as foreign as south-east Asia, you are bound to come across cultural differences and …