Three years ago, this week I finally walked the streets of Granada. I had planned the visit (including booking it and losing my deposit money before) three times before. Each time circumstances had interfered. This time it would happen and joy of joys I was not travelling alone.
It felt like English summer there. Tshirt weather with only the occasional need for a light jacket. My research had informed me February was perfect for a first visit. The mountains still had snow caps they were not doffing yet to respect the spring and summer sovereignty of the sun. The haze and heat that obscured the heavenly light would not trouble us and the crowds would not have descended yet. That February I finally got to see the fabled artist delight that was Andalucia. Every vista begged to be drawn. But I had no drawing supplies, and my camera was the simple one on my phone. Odd? Yes.
The year before The Raccoon (my best friend and lifemate) had followed me into the deep dive into a mental health crisis and we were both coming to terms with our new reality. By this time I was standing on the other side of that deep valley and knew that the river of despair was passable at a few fords along it's length, but she was still sliding down to her nadir. For an internet and data addict that was reached when not even a gifted Kindle could inspire her to do more than stare at it or the wall.
We both loved travelling and seeing beautiful places so out of desperation I booked a week in Granada. She fought me every step of the way. A visit to her Mental Health Nurse having confirmed that my plan was sound, I ignored her squeaks, got her medication for her panic attacks and travel phobia and bundled her into the car and then plane.
Our little lodging had excellent trip advisor ratings and was located within sight of the Town Hall just below the Alhambra. The wonderful concierge welcomed us warmly and orientated us to the city briskly and with passion. She reminded me of a sheepdog motivating a flock for it's own good.
Naively I had not booked our Alhambra tickets ahead of time, I could see the moment of incredulity on her face before she knuckled down to help us get the week long visitors ticket that included the Alhambra. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had avoided thinking of such prosaic things because I did not know till we landed in Granada if the Raccoon would escape my clutches and run for her nest to hide. She had come close to doing that a few times.
But having reached our beautiful resting place, I was grateful that we still got the tickets. Now I had to cross my fingers that she would come out of it again to venture into the gracious and charming streets of the city to make use of the €40 each combined visitors tickets we had brought.
I had hopes for this, especially as she had agreed the money spent was a bargain. The Raccoon has always been able to squeeze every penny of value out of every pound....having spend the money she would use every part of the ticket, I hoped.
That night we went out and had supper next to the river and watched the lights go on all over the Alhambra.
"You know what?" The Raccoon muttered.
"Mmm?" I answered feeling the fatigue of the journey and keeping her moving settling into my bones.
"This is rather pretty. Maybe I should have brought my big camera."
Darn, I thought. I had missed the opportunity to pack it for her, epic friend fail.....