Happy Birthday to me! Even as I get older I look forward to my birthday. As a kid I celebrated with a party and cake, now I simply enjoy spending time with friends, reflecting on all the good things in my life, and, of course, eating cake. Unfortunately, the Italians left yesterday for Malaga after our visit to Al-Hambra. They asked me to go with them, but as much as I wanted to, I still had to see the part of Granada known as Al-Bacyn. Who knew when I would be in Granada again? Now I found myself sitting at a cafe alone with my backpack sitting in the seat across from me. I moved out of the hostel, and I planned to shift to another hostel run by the same man. As I waited for the waiter to take my order for brunch, I gazed thoughtfully at my backpack. In a sudden burst of cinematic inspiration, I decided that like Tom Hank’s character in Castaway, I would name my sole companion, my backpack (inanimate though it was), “Osprey.” I chuckled to myself as I thought about what I would say to Osprey.
At the other hostel I found that they had no beds for me. I explained to the woman there that her husband had told me that I could get a room there. No way, she declared. They had the place booked for weeks. I left Osprey there and looked for another hostel. No luck. Finally I decided to just head to Malaga. I had seen a bit of Al-Bacyn last night anyway, and I was ready to move on. I trekked to the train station where the agent suggested that I instead take a bus, which departed every hour. I found an internet cafe and booked a room at a hostel for three nights in the historic center of Malaga. Then after making a pit stop at a Citibank to withdraw some cash, I retrieved Osprey from the hostel, and headed to the bus station.
After checking in at my hostel in Malaga I showered and changed. Then I headed out to have a nice dinner in celebration of my birthday. People were out and about celebrating Feria, the annual week-long festival. They sang, played music, danced, and drank. They appeared to be having a great time. Though it was already past midnight, there were several seemingly good restaurants still open. I gathered that they had later hours these days to accommodate the Feria patrons. I picked my way through the partygoers searching for the ideal restaurant. I perused the menus posted at the entrances. Nothing really sparked my interest. I wandered through the winding allies. The sounds of people talking, laughing, and singing followed me. I let my nose guide me. There was a whiff of something good. I stuck my finger in the air to determine which way the wind was blowing; where was that smell coming from? It turned out to be something not so appetizing. Again I felt that sense of anticipation I feel when I arrive at a new place. There’s something about the smell of the place, the touch of the air against my skin, that excites my sense of discovery. What will I find here? Who will I meet? Where will I end up? I kept walking. It had become a game like musical chairs, I thought in amusement, except in reverse. The more I walked, the louder my stomach growled. If something appeared or smelled appetizing, it gave an extra growl. Finally, when the growling became unbearable, I took a seat at a restaurant that advertised local cuisine. It specialized in an oxtail dish. I ordered their special and a plate of fried peppers. Unfortunately, the food was less than satisfactory.
After dinner, I set off to find chocolate cake. It’s not a birthday without cake — chocolate cake that is. I found a restaurant that offered it on the menu, but after I made myself comfortable at a table, I was informed by the waiter that they did not have any left. Admittedly disappointed, I meandered around a while longer looking for another place that had chocolate cake. I had no luck, and I finally gave up. I returned to the hostel and went to sleep.