The River and The Heavenly Olives

So after a long day that started at the crack of dawn in the Albazain neighborhood of Granada, I find myself in a tiny bar off Puente de la Miraflores in Cordoba with a beer in one hand and handful of the yummiest green olives I’ve ever tasted on the other. The guy behind the bar was the owner and said the reason the olives were so good was because he brined them himself. After the fifth time I asked for olive refills, he offered to take me to the bar’s storeroom to show me the dozens of painter’s buckets he had filled to the brim with olives just waiting for the right moment to be served. I was in heaven. I was Ali Baba staring at all the treasures at the Cave of Wonders for the first time. My first thought was, “how can I sneak out a bucket without him seeing me?”

Outside at the bar, about 5 Spaniards gathered to watch Barcelona play against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. They asked if I was a Barça fan, I said I was a true blue Madridista, and just like that the floods of hell opened up and I was embroiled in the classic never ending battle between Barcelona and Real Madrid fans the world over. It was going to be a long night of playing the “my team’s dick is bigger than yours” game. I was gonna need beer, lots of it. For the most part, the debate/argument was pretty civil except for “that” guy who insisted that nobody, not even his mates, is a bigger Barça fan than he was. He went on and on for the next two and half hours about the virtues of each Barcelona player since the time of Moses, and how they can do no wrong. The poor bartender felt so bad for me that my beers for the rest of the night were on him, that, and all the olives I can eat.

The guy’s mates on the other hand were pretty cool, and were much more interested in knowing how a Yankee sounding Asian girl is a football fan, and how she ended up in the backstreets of Cordoba. In the midst of this pseudo intellectual conversation we were all having, the quietest guy of the group sidled up to me and asked me if I knew why Cordoba has the most beautiful women in all of Spain and why Sevilla has the ugliest ones. I shook my head and said no. He took my arm, led me outside the bar, pointed towards the river, and in a somber voice said, “In Cordoba, we throw all the uglies over the bridge and let the Rio Guadalquivir wash them down to Sevilla.”


I stealthily start walking backwards towards the bar thinking to myself, “Oh sweet baby Jesus, I hope he doesn’t toss me off next!!!” Mercifully, he didn’t, and I ended up having a great night eating ridiculously good tapas, drinking free beer, chatting with him, the bartender, and the rest of his mates.

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