As the day of departure edges near, the anticipation is mounting! For the first time in my life, I’ll have a chance to visit the place which has been the object of my study for the past 5 years: Castile and Andalusia! I essentially know nobody there (well, more accurately, no one who hasn’t been dead for over 500 years!) and, aside from a 2-month stint at the Universidad de Granada, I have about 20 days to myself so my options are wide open! Funny enough, deciding which books to take with me on my trip is proving a much more important and harder decision than I had anticipated…I suppose when much of the time will be spent on airplanes/buses/trains, reading material becomes more relevant! Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote,” St. Augustine’s “City of God,” and probably something by Ghazali/Ibn Taymiyya/Ibn ‘Arabi are all on my list for the summer. Updating my iTunes is another task I have before me…any suggestions?
Trivial matters aside, it looks like I’ll be staying in Madrid for about five days before continuing my trek southwards to Granada…visiting Toledo, Cordoba, and Jaén along the way. For the uninitiated, these are all very important historical cities in the Iberian Peninsula associated with the heyday of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) in the medieval period. I am also seriously considering visiting the smaller villages and towns along the road between Madrid and Granada as well. So far, the plan is to spend the first half of the trip exploring Madrid, Andalusia, and Extremadura while devoting the last part of the trip to Valencia, Aragón, León, Asturias, and Galicia! It remains to be seen if this ambitious plan can be matched by the reality of cash and time constraints! It never hurts to try! As they say…”aim for the stars and perhaps you’ll reach the sky.”
Working on learning how to distinguish between the different pronunciations of the letters \c\ and \z\ in Madrid and Andalusia (where there are apparently 5-7 different dialects) will certainly be a challenge as well!