Oranges at Your Feet in Andalusia

Córdoba, Spain. We have been here for about two weeks now, and already I dread the day of departure. It is March 3, and as I look outside a window of the Starbucks in Plaza de las Tendillas, I see a clear-blue sky sprawled over smiling people in t-shirts. There are children wearing costumes (I logged a princess, a cowboy with a markered-on mustache, and two yellow chickens), though I don’t know why. Every tree is an orange tree.

Oranges roll around the sidewalk, unnoticed by the people here who are used to abundance. In fact, the fallen oranges are trampled by pedestrians, as if they were rotten leaves rather than potential food. The discarded oranges mush into a pulp that immediately instills in me a sense of panic, on the occasions that I feel rather than see my step. Through the barrier of a shoe, smashed oranges feel exactly like excrement.

This clarification came from my friend, who has been to Andalucia before. The oranges are nothing new to her. She told me that if I ever suspect that I’ve walked in dog poop, it is most likely a smashed orange. This information is especially comforting at night, when it isn’t always possible to see the ground in dark corners and alleyways. Andalucia is perhaps one of the only parts of the world where one can take solace in such a fact.

April 16, 2019 update: I asked a barista if the people here eat oranges from the trees, and he told me that the orange trees in the city cannot grow properly. The oranges do not grow to full size, and so they are too acidic to eat. The Spanish are not wasteful in their indifference to the fallen citruses…though I wonder if the under-ripe oranges serve another function, other than aesthetics.