The allure of Morocco…

I’ve never been to Morocco.  When I was a student in Madrid in 1980, I wasn’t courageous enough to tackle the bureaucracy involved in visiting, and since then it just hasn’t been on my radar.  But I did recently spend a week there in my imagination, through my latest Spanish television binge-watch of El tiempo entre costuras/The Time In Between and the novel La reina de las dos lunas.

Just when I’ve been wondering if I should keep paying for Netflix, I’ve had two fabulous viewing experiences, first with Gran Hotel/Grand Hotel and now with El tiempo entre costuras/The Time In Between.  The later is based on a novel I had read and loved several years ago, by María Dueñas (Atria, 2011).  It narrates the story of a Madrid seamstress, Sira Quiroga, who goes to Tangier, Morocco, right before the Spanish Civil War with a lover who subsequently abandons her.  Recruited at the beginning of World War II by the English as a spy, Sira does eventually go back to Madrid, and then Portugal.  The book was a compelling read (and is widely available in English translation), but I have to say I love the television series even more!  It perfectly captures the sights, sounds, and most especially the clothing of 1930’s and 40’s Madrid, Tangier, Tetuán, and Lisbon.

Set several centuries earlier, in 1520, La reina de las dos lunas (The Queen of the Two Moons), by José Manuel García Marín (Roca Editorial de Libros, 2012), also takes place in Morocco and Spain, this time in Fez and then Andalucía.  As near as I can tell, this novel is not available in English, so if you read Spanish you might want to give it a try, though I’m not sure it’s THAT great of a read.  I liked the story well enough.  Christian slave, Estevan Peres, falls in love with the fifth wife of a sultan.  He manages to help her escape the harem and together they make their way to Spain.  I’m a little unclear why the Westminster College Hill Library had this book and not many others that I think most critics would consider to be much better, but there you have it.  I was drawn in by the time period, by the fact that I was looking for something to read in Spanish, and by the fact that the plot is based on historical evidence.  Isabel and Fernando’s grandson, Carlos I, and his step-grandmother turned mistress, Germana de Foix, served as the godparents for the escaped Yumana, renamed Juana de Carlos.  Is it coincidence that I’m also currently streaming and addicted to a Spanish television series, Carlos, Rey Emperador, about that same Carlos?  I think not…

I don’t have any big trips on the horizon, mostly because I need to regroup financially from almost continuous travel since July.  So I’ll have to be content with the next best thing…hearing Spanish on television and reading about places I want to visit while plotting my next real-life adventures!


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