• A. Denise Beltré

España: Sharing the Love (Introducing Your Place to Your Love)

I fell in love when I was in my early 20’s.

I’d always dreamt of going to Spain, and as a Spanish major, I finally had the chance to visit!

Right after spring semester I was whisked off to Europe with 30 of my classmates. Our first stop: Spain. It was so exciting being able to fulfill my dreams of getting to know the history of Madrid, the international flavor of Barcelona, and the orange blossomed-lined streets of Sevilla. But nothing could’ve prepared me for meeting the city that would capture my heart: Granada. Tucked away in the La Sierra mountain range of Andalucia, I beheld her for the first time. It was early afternoon and the bright sunshine bathed the earth-toned buildings. Our first stop was the majestic La Alhambra. My heart beat faster as I wandered through the halls of the beautiful palaces. I couldn’t believe how breathtaking it was. I ‘d always been an admirer of Islamic art, and experiencing La Alhambra was the culmination of my childhood dreams. I imagined myself going back in time to an age where I could be a visitor to the palace, and perhaps stay in one of the intricately designed rooms.

Descending from El Generalife, we visited the winding streets of city center. They were a mix of Islamic and European architecture, interesting and complicated. I felt as if someone had read my mind and designed a city just for me! Interacting with the friendly locals, sampling delicious foods, and shopping in the Arab Market were all experiences that made me tingle with excitement. But it wasn't over. I experienced the raw passion of Flamenco, which completely took me in.

Over the next few days I spent many hours getting to know Granada, and realized that I had fallen for this place. When it was time to leave, I felt a profound sadness; I was so connected to her already. As we pulled away from the city limits, I looked back at Granada and promised her I would return.

Years passed, and the memories of the city that I loved stayed with me. My travels had taken me to live and work in Asia, but I would often recommend Granada to friends to visit. How could I make them understand why she had so captured me? Then it happened. As I had found my place in Granada, I found my true Love. As we planned a trip to Spain, I couldn’t wait to share her. I excitedly told him about this place that was so dear to me, but inside I felt some hesitation. Would he understand her? Would he love her as I did? But, what if he thought she was just okay, that I had been overzealous? It had been years after all. Would I still feel the same?

As we drove into Granada and found our hotel, my heart skipped a beat. ‘I’ve come back,’ I willed her to hear. While I showed my Love the city that had captured me, something happened: he fell in love too! Awestruck first by La Alhambra, he took over 1000 photos. “I finally get it!” was his reaction to the first of several Flamenco shows we attended. We sampled, laughed, loved, and experienced my city, and as a result she became our city.

I'm sharing this experience because it’s such an amazing feeling to love a place, but what makes it even more special is sharing it with the person who has captured your heart.

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