My Winning Travel Essay: “Andalusia: That’s Life”

Maybe you remember that I won Traveling Essay Contest held by Books & Beyond last year. I posted about it here. The essay was then featured in printed edition of Jakarta Globe, November 20, 2013. I know it was late, but late is better than never, right?



Andalusia: That’s Life

(Puti Karina Puar)

“If I was young, I’d flee this town
I’d bury my dreams underground…”

Beirut’s Elephant Gun started to play as I woke up and found myself arriving on Granada. After getting off of the bus that brought me from Madrid, I looked around. Apparently the only Indonesians were only me and Anisah, my travel mate.

Granada is a part of Andalusia, the southern-most autonomous community in Spain. Beside Granada, there are 7 other provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Andalusia got its name from ‘Al-Andalus’, a medieval Muslim state occupying parts of Iberian Peninsula that nowadays are known as Spain, Portugal, and some part of France. That’s why in Andalusia there are many historic sites with Islamic style including the famous Alhambra Palace.


Andalusia was my teenage dream. It started in a history class where my teacher told about Islamic history; how once Islam achieved such great glory[1] in Europe which we hardly talked about. I’ve never been a super-religious person but story of Andalusia simply amazed me; how it once was a center of global economy and culture which sounds like fairy tale these days.

So ten years later, that dream brought me to Spain. I traveled to Andalusia.


After some churros[2] and the sun rose, we took local bus to the city center then continue with smaller bus. We went through the steep and narrow alleys of Albayzin district with hundreds of charming Mediteranian houses decorated with bright colored ceramics on the white walls. Our main purpose was Alhambra Palace with its version of Garden of Eden, Generalife.




The Alhambra was a palace with majestic Moorish[3] design. For some seconds, I forgot that I was in Europe. The view from such great height was the white houses all over the horizon. From outside, the palace was great and humble at the same time. The walls inside were covered by God’s name carved in Arabic and colorful tiles with geometric pattern as symbol of God’s infinity. Even the rooms were empty, they were still hauntingly beautiful, as if they whispered stories from the past.

That time I had a travelgasm.

On our way back to the city center, I couldn’t help to wonder about life. How it never stops turning around, from day to night, from years to decades to centuries. Andalusia is a witness of a conquest and a re-conquest; a glory of one and downfall of another. That’s life.

My journey; from a dreamer to a traveler. That’s life.

And how we’d never know where we’d be next fall. That’s life.


“Far from home, elephant gun
Let’s take them down one by one
We’ll lay it down, it’s not been found, it’s not around…”
(Beirut – Elephant Gun)


[1] Started in year 711 of Moslem Conquest until The Fall of Granada year 1492

[2] Fried dough pastry snack, sometimes called as Spanish doughnut

[3] Architecture style as articulation of Berber-Islamic, Hispano-Islamic, and Al-Andalus

2 responses

  1. Love! So envy of how you can turn our common thoughts into, just some, magical words or line, Puty! You won me (as well) :p

    1. OMG RR, thank you very much :’)

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