In my high school history classes, I had a teacher I thought was the “coolest” man in the world. He would let me leave class to drive to Burger King for a snack with my friends, and virtually gave us the answers to every test.
He was a horrible teacher.
The only thing I learned in that class was that the #7 on the Burger King menu was my favorite meal, and that it would result in three new zits a day. I never enjoyed history, and it never occured to me why I should.
When we went to Granada this past weekend, it was like opening a window and shedding light on dusty knowledge I never knew had value. I saw the palace of a Muslim king, and I walked past the tombs of Los Reyes Católicos. I saw the things I thought only existed in my Spanish history textbooks before my eyes.
Even more, I finally understood why they mattered.
Because of King Fernando and Queen Isabel, Spain became united under the Catholic faith. Because of them, many types of people were expelled from Spain. Because of them, Cristopher Colombus was given permission to sail on the journey where he discovered America.
In a strange, extended way, I am who I am because of these two people that existed 500 years ago. We all are. It makes me wonder, what if they had done one or two things differently? What if they had never gotten married? What if their parents never had them as children?
Suddenly history no longer seemed like a dictionary of boring dates and treaties to remember. It appeared as a network of decisions that those before us made for hundreds of years, that brought us to where we are now.
Which also means, the decisions we make today will affect those people 500 years in the future…
Never had I realized I was so directly connected to people in the past that I’ve never known, or people in the future I’ll never have the chance to meet. Granada taught me that history does, in fact, mean something. It may be hundreds of years old, but history leaves its trail of footprints on our ways of life today.
Other than my big revelation, and a sudden distaste for my high school history teacher, Granada charmed me. It is nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and is filled with people outside enjoying a beautiful day. Men on stilts and people in bird costumes danced in the streets as a celebration of the spring. Restaurants tempted passerbys with free tapas for every purchased drinks.
It was beautiful.