A Day in Sevilla

I was just reading through old emails and found one I wrote about my trip to Sevilla, Spain in the summer of 2004. Made me laugh.

un cuento/ a story
sevilla, the city where christopher colombus was granted his wish and fate took its course.

yesterday i got to sevilla late. i had planned to catch the 8 am bus from granada to sevilla but the bed was too comfortable. after a slow start, i was able to take the next bus at 12 pm and reached sevilla around 3 pm.

its hot as hell! its 47 degrees celsius!!! (that equals 116.6 degrees fahrenheit!)

after getting off the bus and checking my map of the city, i began making my way into the center of the city on foot. did i say walk? more like stumble blindly.

first, as i said, "its hot as hell," so you stumble forward from one shady spot to the next until this becomes much more important than actually following a particular route. in fact the path seems marked liked hansel and gretel leaving breadcrumbs for you. shadow to shadow, and then you realize that this is getting you no where or rather, lost.

so you must brave the sun and when you do, its as if you've stepped into a hot turkish bath of perspiration. your clothes cling to you and your feet roast in the running shoes that you'd rather not be wearing, the flip flops that broke in granada packed useless in your backpack as the glue that you patched them with the night before, dries.

second, upon reaching the city center you find yourself in a maze of twisted narrow streets that leave you with no sense of direction. but there are lovely sights to see as you walk through the old jewish quarter of santa cruz. there is the 3rd biggest cathedral in the world with its gothic flying buttresses and gargoyles that act as drain spouts (i heard that the word gargoyle comes from the latin word for gargle), there is the impressive Alcazar (once a fort/church/palace), and of course the dozens of outdoor cafes on cute little plazas.

finally by 5 pm i reach my destination at the Pensión Varega and crash, pummeled by the sun. after a couple of hours of reading "the sun also rises", i venture out again.

the streets as i said are narrow. high above hang long sheets of canvas to give protection from the sun to the crowds below. crowds eating ice cream, window shopping, and people-watching (like me).

i find my way to the river. along the way it is completely necessary to by a bottle of water every 10 city blocks. (still hot)

the river is green and full of kayakers paddling away and playing water basketball between strokes.

on my way back into town i pass the old bullring and find a bench on the plaza nueva and sit down next to a little round old lady with a black dog, who struck up a conversation with me by trying to guess where i was from. after eliminating all of the european possibilities (from germany to italy) she finally guessed right (to her satisfaction).

before long, another younger old lady with a flashlight joined us on the bench and entered into the conversation, fanning herself furiously. (hot)

the conversation began (being dominated by the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog) with a short history of how the river had been diverted many years ago from its original path (it had flowed right though the plaza in which we were sitting). then the conversation moved on to the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog talking about her 8 cousins who had moved to venezuela (60-some years before) by sneaking aboard a ship and when they were caught, made friends with the captain. and then she talked about how bored she had been while visiting her daughter's family on sunday. they had a pool, but she hadn't been in a pool since 1981 (she thought).

the 2nd-younger-old-lady-with-a-flashlight would occasionally make comments that had nothing to do with what the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog was saying, such as:
1. how lonely she was.
2. how she wouldn't take/get on elevators anymore even though her daughter lived on the 9th floor of an apartment building. she said she took the stairs. (i found that hard to believe)
3. she got absolutely furious about the idea of chewing gum (she found it disgusting)
4. and finally said that i was a handsome blond.

the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog continued talking about people finding long lost treasure buried in in the ground floor of their row houses, repeated the story about how bored she was at her daughter's house on sunday, and then talked about electrical black out (which explained why the 2nd-younger-old-lady-with-a-flashlight had a flashlight).

the conversation completely degenerated when the 2nd-younger-old-lady-with-a-flashlight asked the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog if she wasn't uncomfortable missing half of her teeth.

the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog was in fact missing, on the top row, almost all her teeth on the left side, and on the bottom row, almost all of the teeth on the right side.

from then on, health was the topic of discussion, dominated of course by the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog. she told us that she had left her false teeth at her daughter's house on sunday, then she told us about the breast cancer that turned out to be a blood clot (a discovery made literally on the operating table as the doctors prepared to remove her breast), she spoke about her nephew's spinal cord problems, and how her brother (a professor of physical chemistry at the age of 17) died at the age of 30 in his bathtub.

shortly before leaving the bench and their company, the 1st-old-lady-with-a-black-dog gave us all hard candies before declaring "they're sugar free!," which was good because they both turned out to be diabetics, joking about not being able to prick their fingers for blood tests anymore because they had built up callouses.

in the end i left them smiling on the bench, slightly sorry that i was leaving as i was sure that i would be missing out on some interesting conversations.

sevilla is a beautiful place!

Sunset in Plaza Nueva, Sevilla sold
(this painting was made shortly after returning to the States in 2004. Not the old ladies I was sitting with, but my view from the park bench while we spoke.. )