Return of the Moors: Cordoba


Return of the Moors: Cordoba

Bismillah. Cordoba gave me something I didn't know I
needed. Let's rewind a bit. Cordoba is our first real destination.
Casablanca and Madrid were both waypoints. By that I mean the trip
really began for me in a new way upon arriving here in Cordoba. So we
land on the train platform at 10:22pm, quickly connect with the Airbnb
host on check-in details, hail a taxi, get the apartment keys from a
lockbox somewhere in town, continue to the apartment, make our way
inside, and I sigh with relief(I must have though I'm really not sure).
Our apartment is across street from the Mezquita Catedral--set in a the
heart of a quaint town that calls back to a time where streets were
built for walking and homes where situated as close as possible to
centers of worship. The climate is not very spiritual here, but it is
clear that this place was built by centuries of people who knew the
importance of God.

I mention beginnings because in a few ways, I've yet to experience the
stark emotional shift to announce the clear beginning of this trip.
There was the moment I began packing. There was the moment I dapped my
brother up at the airport. There was the moment Taj, Akrem, I met in the
terminal. There was the moment I faced a swarm of headscarves boarding
the plane bound for Casablanca. There was the moment I stood on the
balcony of our apartment taking in the view of the Mezquita Catedral and
cobblestone streets of Cordoba. Each of these moments holds their own
sense of incipience--some more than others--but so having so many
moments underscores truth that there has been no single moment of
outset. All at once I feel as I would still being Brooklyn, boarding an
international flight, preoccupied to with prior commitments, and
traveling the world with friends. How can that allow for a sense of

Walking into the Mezquita Catedral I was at a loss for words. The awe of
beholding millennium-old Moorish archways(made real from the pages of a
text) held the raucous of tourist whispers and the disquiet of an
elusive sense of presence at bay long enough for me to feel. Only that.
Standing at the entrance to the once-prayerroom of the Mezquita, I had
not words for what I felt and no pressing need to define the
nothingness. For the next 3 hours, we wandered the inner sanctum of this
place. We learned history of Cordoba's conquerors: Romans, Visigoths,
Moors in 700s CE, and Spanish in 1200s. We learned how the Mosque itself
was commissioned by an exiled Prince Abdurrahman I in 786CE and
renovated several times over for the next 200 years. We laughed at the
consistency of human nature, the way a Jumu'ah parking lot in the 800s
functions much the same way it does today: "Brother there a horse and
cart that's blocking the rest of the brothers, please finish your
sunnahs and move it." We took a bunch of pictures. We found bites around
town. We spoke to strangers.

We are in the midst of our adventures, and all the while I am holding
this sense of confusion. "where is this sense of beginning that I'm
looking for? What is my dynamic in travel group? What am I hoping to get
from this trip, really? Why am I here? Where am I?"

As we leave Cordoba, I still hold some of these questions; I am not sure
what is different, but somehow these questions are no longer a burden.
They are here. And so am I. Wherever here is. Wherever here will take
us. I'm content to have arrived and I excited for what comes next.

Next stop: Granada \]
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