World Cup Soccer determined the rhythm of life for the first two weeks of my stay in Granada. The Spaniards take their fdtbol very seriously, they are boisterous in their appreciation of the sport. A bar full of Spaniards with the fdtbol on the TV is like an emergency at the fireworks stand. No Spaniard with blood and not yogurt in his veins misses a game of the World Cup. And Granada, what with the university and so on, has a very international population, so any night you wanted, you could find bars chock-full of patriots decked out in their country’s uniform jerseys, wild with elation or rage. If you want to experience the ferocity of a European war without the actual carnage, go to Granada during the Mundial of soccer.
The festivities went on long and loudly into the night. I and my apartment mates, English and German, northern Europeans all, with nothing but yogurt in our veins, prayed for the satellite feed to suffer some catastrophic and irreparable technical difficulty. Granada is made of brick, concrete, and tile, and the apartment blocks have been designed and arranged to echo just as much as possible. This adds greatly to the effect of car horns and firecrackers. One of the great things about being a little kid in Spain was that the firecrackers were plentiful and cheap.
It kept me up late most nights, which was good for the novel. At two in the morning, what else is there to do but write? By the night of a big game for Spain, against France as I recall, I was fantasizing about sleep: hours and hours of it, between cool linen sheets, and in a soundproof room a thousand miles from the nearest television set.
I was in the apartment when the game started. After the initial excitement was over, things were surprisingly quiet. I was almost asleep when Spain scored its goal. The resulting seismic event decided me I might as well get up and take a walk.
Granada is a great town to walk around in at night, and I hope that my Spanish friends will forgive me that, as I walked, I hoped that Spain would lose their game. If they did, I might get some sleep later.
It didn’t seem like much was happening in the game. You could tell, because in Granada you are never out of earshot of a bar. I ambled all around town until a change in the atmosphere announced that the game was over. Traffic picked up, and cars full of crazed, red and yellow bedecked young men careened along the boulevards. One sported a loyal fan hanging out the window and holding a Spanish flag proudly aloft. My heart sank. I was very tired.
The next morning, I found out that Spain had lost after all. That night, I was able to sleep with the window open, which was the only way to sleep in my room at all. The nights were stiflingly hot, and any breeze at all was a relief. At about five every morning the trash trucks made their rounds. Since they don’t have alleys, big garbage and recycling containers sit out on the street every few blocks. We had a set right in front of the building. When they pick up and empty the glass-recycling containers, which hold several cubic meters each, it’s a sound to wake the dead.