Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Love Story of Alicante

 During the 11th century, the Moors ruled over a thriving port city on the Mediterranean Sea. 
Rich in history, this city was the ultimate prize to victors of numerous wars.  

In the time of our story, a fair Moorish King ruled the land and lived high above its port in the Castillo de Santa Barbara, this breathtaking castle...

The King lived in the castle with his beautiful daughter, Cantana, who was his pride and joy.  Cantana was a free spirit, full of joy and love.  She was as lovely and soft as a rose, yet her amazing spirit and open heart made her beauty shine brighter than any star in the universe  Unlike other princesses, Cantana appreciated her servants and treated them as equals.  She especially loved attending festivals in the city, for it was then  that she was able to live freely among the many colorful people of her father's kingdom.

On the summer solstice, Cantana begged her father to grant her permission to celebrate the most important festival of the year, the Bonfires of Saint John.  For weeks the villagers built elaborate parade floats in all of the city's streets - all for one purpose - to burn as bright, big fires in honor of Saint John.  The King, knowing his daughter's lust for life, agreed to let Cantana attend the festival, but only if she promised one thing - to stay in the company of his guards at all times - for the King would never forgive himself if anything happened to his beautiful daughter.

Cantana, thrilled by her father's approval, decorated herself in silks of all colors and pinned her hair with the most fragrant flowers from the castle's garden.  The guardsmen accompanied her down the mountain, but had a hard time keeping up as Cantana skipped ahead for delight in her thoughts of the celebration that awaited her.  Fires, fireworks and friends from all walks of life smiled as Cantana arrived to the street party.    
She danced and laughed and talked with many cheerful people through the night.

On the sandy beach, where the pyrotechnics lit fireworks, Cantana sat and rested awhile to take in the show and admire her home - the Castle - as it rested quietly atop the mountain above the city.

Just then, a beggar from the streets approached Cantana.  As her guardsmen began to stop him, Cantana said not to worry and invited the man over.  He introduced himself as Ali, and confessed that he had been following her since her first appearance at the festival hours before.  

He said, 
"Everything about you is unique. 
From the top of your head 
to the tip of your toes.  
No one else can walk how you walk, 
or laugh like you laugh, 
or dance how you dance, 
smile how you smile, 
or shine like you shine.  
You're one of a kind.  
You are amazing to me."

Cantana admired Ali for his bravery.  Even though he was a beggar, she saw him as her equal.
She knew that his heart was pure and immediately felt a strong explosion in her heart. 
Cantana was going to save him from his life on the streets.

She grabbed Ali's hand and danced around him singing,

""All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small, 
All things wise and wonderful-
The Lord God made them all.
Come with me, Ali!
I will love you just as He made you -
To my heart you are true.
You are amazing to me, too!"

And while the guards were watching the fireworks display, Cantana and Ali slipped away to dance and sing and laugh and smile the night away.  

The next morning, Cantana arrived back at her father's castle and declared her love to the King.

"Father, my King, 
as you are aware, 
the love in my heart knows not class, 
and I want to be married to my heart's true love.
He is Ali."

The King became very upset, for Cantana had broken her promise to stay with the guardsmen all night.
In his anger, he forbid Cantana to marry Ali and told her to make him leave immediately!

The hearts of both lovers broke together at that same moment.  
Their knees became weak and tears poured from their eyes as they fell to the ground.
Overcome with sadness, the light that once shined in Cantana's heart went out.

Overcome by despair,
she looked one last time into Ali's eyes and said, 

"If I cannot be with you, 
my true love,
I do not wish to live."

Ali replied, 

"If I cannot be with you, 
my true love,
my life is also over." 

So the two star-crossed lovers joined hands tightly, 
ran quickly from the King and the guards
and jumped from the castle walls and far down into the salty sea below. 

The King immediately felt remorse for his hasty response to his daughter's plea, 
and overcome by his sadness he kneeled at the castle wall and cried for weeks. 
His tears slowly eroded the mountain into the shape of a Moor's face.
To this day you can see what the trail of the King's tears created.

The name of the city - Alicante - forever echoes the sad love story of Ali and Cantana.


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