Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fuimos a Ronda

TL;DR (Too long, don't read):  A lot of people were rude to us, but things are better now.  Ronda was beautiful and we are in Granada now.

Click here for more pictures.

Day three got off to a rough start, and later in the morning we would hit a low point in moral and self-confidence for this trip. 

First, a word of advice:  If you find yourself hard up for a quick snack while in Malaga, don't trust the vending machines.  I'm down nearly 3 euros (about $5) to these mechanical swindlers; and if the fist-smashed glass on one of the machines in the bus station has anything to tell,  apparently, I'm not the only victim.

When we arrived in Ronda, the weather was brisk and wet, but the few sprinkles here and there did nothing to ruin the morning.  However, the waitress at the breakfast cafe did everything she could to do so.  She was already in hectic state when we sat, and we're still not sure what we did to piss her off, but boy did we.  A lot of things went wrong during this brief and hostile encounter, but the tipping point of pure shock came we she deliberaetely threw a wadded-up used napkin on our table right in the middle of our meal. We didn't know what to say (mostly because our Spanish is terrible). Monica and I sat there, mouths open, staring at each other.  We had run into a string of rude, obnoxious, and caustic locals in the past 48 hours, but this woman could have sent them all home crying in their diapers.  

So the questions and sweeping generalizations began. Do the French have a bad rap? Is it instead the Spainards who are out-of-their-way rude?  And what was causing this reaction?  Was it our poor grasp of the language, their general disgust towards foreigners, or was it really what is most likely the case... just a few bad "manzanas."  In anycase, it felt like bad luck, and it was bringing us down.

According our travel book, Ronda is home to the oldest bull-fighting rings in Spain.  So, taking inspiration from the steadfast toros who have fallen to their fierce Spanish opponents in this town's past, we resolved keep to keep charging ahead on regardless of the outcome.

Ronda is actually a breathtakingly beautiful place, and is said to have once been home to both Hemingway and Orwell.  It's built on a vertigo inducing gourge with ancient and massive bridges connecting the barrios.

Like many towns and regions in Spain, Ronda was established by Muslims and later conquered by Catholics.  Many churches, like the one we visited here, are former mosques that were converted after Christians took control.  

This church had multiple towering altars and some spooky looking relics.  Monica says they freaked her out.  Before leaving, she took the chance to light a candle and say a prayer.   I'm not sure what she said, she can't tell and I know it wasn't self-serving, but whatever she said seems to have changed our luck.  Since then, we've run into plenty of more polite, cordial, and affable locals.  

A handful of them work at the Michelan starred (not the tire dude i'm told) Restaurante Pedro Romero. We had our best meal so far - the menu was more regional, seasonal, and butt-kicking fantastic.   Nothing like a good hearty feast to pick up your spirits.  Buen-freakin'-provecho, indeed.

Ox tail stew, almost forgot to take a pic before we ate it all. 
As of now we are in Granada.  We took the gorgeous bus ride here this morning on a perfectly paved highway.  Seriously, Cal-trans should come here to study how to make highways.  The rolling hills of olive orchards and secluded little towns along the way made for the most serene landscape I've ever seen.

More on Granada soon...

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