Friday, January 14, 2011

History Lessons and Relationship Advice from Maricarmen

Today we got ourselves a caravan of taxis and went up into the neighborhood of Sacromonte, where there is a monastery and incredible views of the Alhambra. One of our professors, Maricarmen, sat us down for a short lesson about the history of Granada and the monastery were were sitting in. La Abadia Sacromonte was a monastery and a seminary, and it has a beautiful courtyard with a fountain and orange trees. The star of David is everywhere--on the walls, the ceiling, the furniture and even the priests' vestments--and Maricarmen explained that in this context it's not a symbol of Judaism but Solomon's seal, a mark of wisdom and mysticism. I won't try to encapsulate the multiple millenia that Maricarmen told us about, but one of the most interesting things we did was explore the catacombs beneath the church. These were used by early Christians during the second century to hide from the Romans who occupied Spain at the time. The patron saint of this area is San Cecilio, and his (supposed) bones were found in the catacombs and are relics at Sacromonte today. The bones were found beneath two stones, one black and one white, and superstition says that if a woman touches the black stone on February 1, the feast of San Cecilio, she will be married within the year (My roommate Athina touched it but the rest of us stayed a safe distance away). Conversely, if you're married and touch the white stone on February 1, your spouse will either die or otherwise disappear over the course of the next year--which I guess must have come in handy before Spain recognized divorce (It's a fairly recent phenomenon here, compared with the rest of the world). Maricarmen swears it works--she said (in Spanish) that if you ever find yourself married to the wrong person, you shouldn't bother to pay a lawyer--just make a visit to La Piedra Blanca. That way, she says, you at least get a vacation into the bargain.

the chicos, making us a classroom

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