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“Caravaning” is a term chosen to describe the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and passions with different cultures. In November of 2014, Pete and Krista went to Spain where 500 years ago, the greatest caravaning of all took place. They confined themselves to the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula which is called “Andalucia”, the portal of the Old World meeting the New World.
From Nerja, we hop on a bus and go north to Granada, home of an ancient Moorish palace and fort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains called the Alhambra. The air feels cold here as we huddle up to the fire to enjoy roasted chestnuts and watch fresh snow in the mountains above us.
Our host Adela serves us a big breakfast with hot coffee at the family table. The Spanish Omelet is made with fewer eggs and more potatoes than we are accustomed, cooked in olive oil. The coffee is served in a 4-cup Moka Pot.
The Moka pot is an aluminum vessel shaped like an hourglass and is quite popular in Europe. It’s a unique coffee mechanism: the bottom reservoir is filled with fresh water, ground coffee is added to a basket between the two vessels, and the top vessel, which starts out empty, becomes the receptacle of the brewed coffee. The prepared moka pot is placed on a stove. When the water is hot, steam begins to form in the bottom vessel, pushing the water through the coffee to the top vessel. The result is an elementary espresso that, if done correctly with fresh coffee, is an intense brew with good crema and a slightly bite from the over extraction. I love it! Especially with eggs there is no better pairing.
Fortified by a hearty breakfast, we head to the Alhambra. Here is the Apex of the Moorish influence on Andalucia. The Moors ruled Spain for nearly 700 years and this was their last home before the Christians expelled them. In the afternoon, we explore the Sacromonte, just across a valley from the Alhambra. The gypsies settled here, some still living in caves, cut off from the structure of the city planners. They are a tight, closed society, who hold onto to their own unique customs including Flamenco.
Finally, in the evening we take a stroll though the Jewish neighborhood, where we find the synagogue and former dwellings of the Jews who from 700 to 1000 AD lived in relative harmony with Christians and Moors. This ended in 1060 AD when the Moors had an uprising and killed much of the Jewish population. And then later, this happened again, when the Christians during the Inquisition required Jews to convert, flee, or die.
Our Caravaning: Spain has a complex history of Jews, Moors, and Catholics who have all left a fingerprint on today’s Andalucia. History truly does repeat itself: nations invade, rape and pillage… and the Moka Pot returns to our kitchen.