One of the most heartwarming aspects of living in Granada is seeing the total integration of generations into every aspect of the culture. It is so different from the United States where some places might deem it inappropriate to bring children and other environments might not make the elderly (or even middle aged folks like us!) feel completely welcome. Granada is the antithesis of this.
Here in Granada, families are everywhere. Families of all ages and stages. Families large and small. They are out, in the world, pushing strollers and at cafes, eating in restaurants, and drinking in bars…sometimes while holding babies. There is a sense here that parents aren’t going to stop their lives for their children, and kids in Granada must melt into the lives their parents lead. After school each day, we frequently see kids at cafes while their parents enjoy a glass of beer with their friends in the afternoon sun. So to do we see kids on the street at all hours of the night. They play with siblings and friends along the stone corridors while their parents socialize. Karen has all the good one liners, and she says, “Granada is like a warm blanket for families” and you can tell the families who live here embrace that comfort.
For Karen and I, it has been fun to observe family life—and particularly the young families. Karen has played peek-a-boo games with many a baby, and it has given us a chance to relive those moments that flew by so quickly with Jackson and Cassius. It’s a constant reminder of just how much our boys have grown, and each day when they return home from school, it seems as if they have aged considerably. Time is, indeed, marching on.
Much as we have enjoyed these small interactions with Granada’s youngest citizens, so too have we enjoyed the opportunity to observe the elderly population in Granada. Every day, we watch older people navigating the cobblestone streets. Sometimes we see them alone and other times we witness them spending time with a group of friends. And we have seen more men in their 80’s pushing wheelchairs of a friend than we have ever seen in our lives. The manner in which they care about themselves (and others) is truly inspiring. They make their way to the store. They carry bags of groceries, ride buses, and are, in many ways, the heartbeat of this city. They aren’t put out to pasture or exiled to retirement homes. They are revered. They are so clearly respected everywhere they go, and you won’t get on a city bus without seeing people stand up and offer their seats to someone older. They carry themselves with a dignity and pride that we haven’t often witnessed. They dress impeccably well, and it is easy to see that they have taken great care with their appearance. They might move slower, but they seem to approach life with both a peaceful tranquility and a beautiful resilience that has made us want to live up to the standard they set.
Earlier this year, while walking back to our apartment after watching Spain’s national soccer team play a World Cup Qualifying match against Macedonia in Granada, we saw three women in their late seventies walking towards us. They were dressed impeccably, with nice coats, leather shoes, and colorful scarves. It was around 11:30 PM, and it looked like they were returning after a night out on the town. We were dressed much less impressively, in Spain apparel, but it was clear that we were coming from the stadium. “Que ganar (who won)?” they asked calmly. We responded by telling them Spain had earned a 4-0 victory to which they exclaimed “Vamos España!!!”— with the echoes of their buyant voices careening into the night air. Vamos España indeed!