Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Sounds and Colors of Marrakesh

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The pashmina obsession has not faded since my trip to Turkey in the spring, so I decided a trip to Morocco to refresh my pashmina stock was in order! Unfortunately, my camera was stolen in Barcelona the week after I went to Marrakesh so I lost all my photos but I really learned my lesson about backing up photos ASAP.

This visit was spent exploring the souks, buying wonderful pashminas, handmade gifts, and enjoying cheap and delicious Moroccan food. I also went on a tour to go visit some waterfalls outside of the city. Going back to the Arab world after I left Lebanon was like going back home. There were things that I was so excited to see and do again, and there were things that I knew would bother me so much. Being back in the chaos was exciting  – cars that don’t worry about the lack of roads, bartering with market men to drop the price to a 1/10 of what they quote, a dizzying array of meat and foods in the market, the pure heaven that is a hammam. The creepy/stalky men I didn’t miss at all, along with the rampant pollution and insane litter.

But at the end of the weekend, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait for my next chance to jump back into the Arab world!

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Strike & Hike

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November 14 was an important day across Europe. It was the European Day of Action and Solidarity, in which millions of labor union workers in 23 European countries joined together in protests and strikes. The strike of November 14 is the biggest Europe has ever seen, with an enormous workforce joining together in unity to make a statement to their policymakers. Their slogan, “we have no future!,” sums up their feelings, doubts, fears, and anger about the current situation.

For Spaniards, affected by the “crisis,” as they commonly call it, it was a day of national strike where over 80% of the workforce joined to protest against the government’s austerity measures that include public spending cuts in critical areas such as education and healthcare. The crisis has hit Spain especially hard, with their 26% unemployment rate making the United States’ 7.9% unemployment look like chump change. Some bigger cities were affected badly by the strike, with police cars being set on fire in Barcelona and bloody clashes between protesters and police in Madrid.

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Protesters on the main Ave in Granada. Police monitoring.

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The issue felt closer to me thanks to my professors, who fully supported and almost participated in the strike in their own ways. One professor cancelled class to attend a morning demonstration. The other surrendered control of the attendance list and only showed up to work because she believed it was an unjust practice to not pay workers for a day they take off to strike. Many others I know did a consumption strike, purchasing nothing on that day and not taking part in any work or school related activities.

As a foreigner I feel like it is not my place to protest for someone else’s government and try to make another population’s issue my issue. Instead, I tried to do my part by taking part in a strike against general consumption, heading into the Sierra Nevada for a day hike.

The hike I took is a popular one called Los Cahorros, easily accessible by Granada in the nearby village of Monachil. It is a circuit hike of 8km that takes about 2 hours to complete. For a relatively easy hike, it is very diverse and fun. It starts with a quick, uphill walk through the outskirts of the village to the beginning of a gorge. You cross a long, wood and cable bride to get inside the gorge where you walk along the river on a narrow shelf of rock, at some points being forced to crawl or grip rock outcroppings to slide by.

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After the end of the gorge there are plenty of open green spaces to relax and eat lunch along the river, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

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Beautiful.

Unfortunately, there was not much to continue the hike after this point as the path was blocked off nearly at the top of a nearby hill. I climbed past the barrier to see the view from the top but didn’t want to take a chance continuing further without knowing why the path was closed.

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The riverside walk was really cool, crawling half under caves and over ravines.

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A pretty kitty that made friends with us.

To find my way to and through this hike I used a guide created by the people of Trek Sierra Nevada, an excellent resource to people looking to explore this beautiful piece of Andalucia. On their website, http://www.treksierranevada.com/, you can find descriptions of many hikes with distance, difficulty level, estimated time, how to get there, and walking directions with a map. All the guides were written by the people who have actually done the walk themselves. I suggest anyone in Granada to take advantage of this bountiful resource to get outside the city and enjoy all that the Sierra Nevada has to offer!