Finalist for the week of October 6
The Savvy Traveler's Sail Away Contest
After 4,500 miles on frenzied autobahns and manic traffic circles, my rented, rusted Fiat expired while climbing a dusty mountain road in Southern Spain. As I sat contemplating my options, rescue, in the sleek shape of a silver Mercedes, approached. The handsome Andalusian driver gestured for me to join him. This man of the land of la macho knew he lacked mechanical skills, and was man enough not to fake it. We both knew our language limitations, so the resulting silence, and the comfort of the car, lulled me into a pre-sleep hypnotic state.
I was sitting in a courtyard by a reflecting pool, which mirrored pillared walls of filigree, upon which a calligraphist had penned quotations from the Koran. I looked beyond the pool to a garden containing an enormous fountain, upheld by 12 golden lions of stone, and surrounded by exotic, fragrant fruit trees.
My rescuer, now dressed in brilliant white garb, sat at my side. He introduced himself as al-Tutili, a poet, and began to speak of life in Alhambra in 1122. We discussed Islam's peaceful co-existence with Judaism and Christianity, and, to this feminist, he defended the defined roles of men and women in his Moslem community. He passionately expounded on the Moors' expertise in horse breeding. As the sun dropped behind Sierra Nevada, he painted Alhambra in lyric.
"A laugh, revealing pearls, A face, beautiful as the moon. Time is too narrow to contain it, But my heart does so."
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