Alicante is a State of Mind

A well-needed break came in the form of a short summer holiday to Alicante. We stayed at the Hotel Sercotel Suites del Mar; a delightful property with both sea and port views. I especially liked the attention the hotel has paid to little details that made our stay comfortable: extra sockets and USB points in the room so we weren’t fighting for our electronics to be charged (I now carry extra charging hubs from past experience), we had a sea-facing room so the tub in the room was by the balcony looking out at the sea, they had glycerin soaps that were gentle on the skin especially after all the sand and salt. Also pool and table tennis tables ensured that we had plenty to do during the hot afternoons.

We took a short walk and up a lift to see the Santa Barbara Castle, which has stunning views of the city. A visit to the archeological museum informed us about the rich history of the region, its trading significance and links with the Middle East. They had a special exhibit on Iran that had beautiful jewelry, pottery, textile, and documents. It was fascinating to see how Andalusia was connected to Persia and Arabia through these trade routes. In my research on the ghazal I have seen the direct impact of such travel on culture. The ghazal, which came to Spain through such travellers went on to be written by poets such as Lorca. The ghazals in Spanish are called gacelas, and have the same longing and yearning as expressed by its Persian parent. However, this is not the same for the American ghazal. For more on this, you will need to wait for my thesis 🙂

I greatly enjoyed our visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is located close to the church of Santa Maria, walking around this older neighborhood with its charming homes is quite a treat. This museum is the heir of the old Museum of La Asegurada. It was inaugurated in 1977 thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit and generosity of Eusebio Sempere. Sempere was a artist himself and the collection at the museum has many of his pieces, including some fascinating items from his Paris days. These artworks are geometric, painstakingly detailed, and are a clear move away from the figurative. Paris offered Sempere freedom, which Spain did not. His moving away changed his style, his method. The two museums, of archeology and contemporary art, although different in content, echoed how travel had altered objects and perspectives.

The museum of modern art or MACA does not allow you to take any pictures. The act of not being able to document for later retrieval made the mind more alert. I found it frustrating and oddly liberating. I could put my camera away and look for the sake of my own temporary joy. I wonder if more spaces start doing this what would its collective effect be on the psyche?

We spent a day in the skyscraper rich Benidorm, and it’s mad water park called Aqualandia. Bambi has an unusual capacity for adventure and thrill, in comparison to his rather sedate parents. It is fun to see him so very excited, yet, I do think the ticket was wasted on me, I “did” exactly one slide before completely giving up and retiring to reading Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh. I have not completed the novel yet, but I can confirm that it is a deliciously written book. There are words and sentences so craftily put forth that I want to taste them again and again in my mouth, rolling my tongue over the richness of sound. It, too, tells the tale of people who have moved and been removed.

Alicante is wonderful city, which lets you be. I can understand visitors who look upon it as a beach city with not much else to do, however, what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. It gifts you enlightened moments while walking down the port, with its pieces of art, unusual sculpture such as the Statue of Icarus by the renowned Madrid artist Esperanze d’Ors. It makes you gasp with its sunsets, generous fountains that spell out merriment, and its people with their candor who make you feel included. I felt at home, like I was welcome. A feeling to be cherished in the world we live in today.

On the news in Alicante I heard President Trump dictating people to go back – they should be sent back to where they came from, because they had dared to raise their voices. This was not the America promised in The New Colossus, not the promised land, not at all.

Much of what we admire and celebrate is built on the endeavour to venture out and beyond. Confinement begins in the mind and it leaks out covering crevices with its vitriolic influence. Stepping out, into the hotel balcony, with the vast seas, undulating waves, and fishermen who smiled and waved, boats in sail, a moon growing with each passing night, my heart held on to hope. Where our museums and plazas celebrate the learnings from cultures mixing and mingling, learning and growing, where our minds seek endless possibility – may that spirit of human kindness prevail, may we all have an Alicante – state of mind!

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