Cordoba is known for its courtyard gardens, of which the occupants are famously proud. I remember when I was there meandering the winding alleys, a good-natured young man a few years older than me and speaking no English insisted on leading me somewhere. I was 21 and wary, but he was headed the direction I was going anyway and so I followed at a distance. After a few minutes of walking this way, me suspiciously noting street names, him laughing at my suspicion, we arrived at a house with door wide open, framing a lush garden with an old woman sweeping the tiled floor. His home! After I greeted his mother and admired the courtyard, I was free to go, giddy and bewildered by the surprises that lay behind those foreign doors.