Lisette and I wanted to
discover Granada after having spent a stimulating
week at Cortijo Romero, the Personal Development
Centre near Orgiva in the Alpuharras. My dear
friend, being Sephardic originally from Istanbul,
spoke 15th century Spanish, Ladino, fluently. As
I spoke Spanish too and could understand Ladino,
we had an interesting time travelling around,
meeting locals and exploring the area.
We had both attended a
creative writing course facilitated by the
talented author and facilitator Allegra Taylor.
Lisette wanted to go back to her Jewish roots,
the Iberian Peninsula. In 1492 the Catholic
Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella changed history
forever and in their ignorance exiled the highly
educated and powerful Jews along with the Moors.
The Jews were welcomed into the Ottoman Empire by
the ruling far sighted Sultan. Thus the worldwide
Jewish diaspora began.
We first went to Cordoba,
another Jewish destination with a Juderia,
seeking the statue of Maimonides, the famous
Jewish philosopher and the Mesquita before moving
on to our major destination, Granada and The
How disappointed I was in
the town strewn with Trustafarians, filthy long
haired tattooed and body pierced hideous dropouts
with huge black or dark brown dogs, wearing
chains and studded dog collars - the unattractive
male species not the dogs! They littered
the pavements lying opposite shops selling
Moroccan lamps and tables reminiscent of souks.
I felt I was regressed into a retro 70s time warp.
Been there, done that. I heard that these
undesirables lived in caves alongside the gypsies.
I was repulsed when I saw them. Where was
cultural Granada, home of Flamenco and beautiful
flower filled Andalus courtyards and patios?
Worse was yet to come. I
had booked a boutique hotel in Albaicin, the
Casbah part of the city famed for its uniqueness
with its narrow white sinuous streets.
We were delighted with the
hotel with its typical Andalusian inner courtyard
and fountain. We had booked for four nights and
were told by the receptionist, who was actually
situated within the courtyard, that the hotel was
fully booked. Our nicely furnished traditional
bedroom overlooked the busy street with cars
coming and going, i later discovered through the
night. I don't recall how we spent our first
night or where and what we ate but when it was
time for bed, Lisette took a sleeping pill
because she complained of insomnia. A wise woman
it turned out.
We retired around midnight.
I lay in the comfortable bed hearing the never
ending traffic cursing that we were not in a
quieter bedroom overlooking the courtyard. There
must have been a loose pothole cover, because
every time a car went over it, it made a
distinctive sound which I am incapable of
describing in words. It was like Chinese torture
because in the end I was waiting and listening in
advance for the repetitive sound. Like a dripping
tap, the sound would not stop. Even that was hell
for me as I am sensitive to noise.
To sleep, perchance to
dream? No way Jose! Lisette slept soundly while I
suddenly heard knocking on what appeared to be
metal. Knock knock! Male voices down below in the
silent street. I got up and peered out of
the window. The street was lit but empty. Where
were the voices coming from? Wide awake, I went
back to bed. More knocking. Boom boom. Plus the
pothole sound that continued. It was a living
hell. Another night of this and I would have gone
out of my mind.
Selfishly, I decided to
wake Lisette from her slumber, hysterically
telling her I could not sleep. Drowsily she told
me to leave her alone and go back to sleep. I was
beside myself by now. It was the worst night of
my life to my recollection. I needed sleep after
being exhausted by the heat of the summer day
walking around the city. This was sleep
What to do? I got up and,
in only my night dress, braved the large palatial
cold stone steps down to the all night reception.
The girl looked surprised at my sudden appearance
at 3.00 am. I complained about the knocking. She
seemed to be disinterested. I then realised I was
not the first to complain. I demanded to be put
into another room. She explained the hotel was
fully booked. Exasperated I demanded she call the
police. Her reply amazed me. 'They won't come'.
she said. 'Why not?' I wanted to know. 'Because
there is no one there'. was the curt reply. Why
were persons unknown knocking if no one was there?
'Is there a brothel next
door?' I asked confidently. She nodded without
'Yes and it's only open
during the day but the Arabs think they can come
So there was nothing to be
done but return to my room for the rest of the
sleepless night. Fortunately we had not booked
the room through an agency on the net and so the
next morning we immediately checked out.
Being a keen photographer,
the following morning, I examined the pothole in
the road emblazoned with the embossed symbols of
the city. Next I moved on to the building next
door. Round the corner the entrance had an plain
sinister iron gate with an ornate grill that you
could see through two thirds up the gate. I would
not have been the first to have peeked in. Boom
boom made sense in broad daylight. I took
photographic evidence of the black iron gate
standing back incognito.
It was now about 11.00 in
the morning. I saw the TV on and three woman in
black negligees sitting watching, smoking,
laughing, chatting and thoroughly enjoying each
other's company. There was an older tarty
voluptuous blond woman standing smoking by the TV
perhaps the brothel owner or perhaps one of the
working girls. I thought brothels were in action
during the night but this one was day time only.
Perhaps the punters were on day shifts, like the
girls. I wondered what the hourly rate would be
and if there was a menu for the services like in
the Red Light District of Amsterdam.
I longed to take a photo
but did not dare because they might have seen me.
Then I bolted because one of the whores opened
the gate, crossed the road carrying a small
plastic shopping bag and carefully deposited it
in the rubbish bin. I was curious. What was in
the bag? Used condoms? I was not that curious to
With apologies to the movie
'Sleepless in Seattle' this episode was certainly
'Sleepless in Granada'.
in Monistiraki, Athens in September 2015 after a
sleepless night due to the Mexican bar downstairs
below my lovely rented studio waking me up at 2.00
am with never ending very loud noise until 5.00
am!!! History repeating itself.