Sevilla 2008 Part IV-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part IV

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Tuesday May 20, 2008
    We are still sick and taking it very easy. Freddie took a long (for him) walk with Juan yesterday. I walked with them for a while and then met Lucy and a stuffy man from the rental agency to check out apartments for Elun, Donna and Josephine’s weeklong visit in June. The apartment they thought they liked (from the internet photos) is too far from us for Freddie to walk comfortably. It had marble floors but was on a third floor of a large group of apartments and felt touristy, nestled in a cute plaza across from a picturesque hotel and above its owner’s bar.
    Instead, we have chosen an apartment close to Juan and Lucy’s, which is also close to us and very close to Bar Algabeño. The neighborhood is quiet and the street narrow. It is very working class and not touristy. It will be a different part of Spain from the hotels and pensions. It has a kitchen, washing machine and a double bed, a rarity in the rental realm in Sevilla. There is a separate room for Josie, right next to Elun and Donna’s room. A small balcony looks out onto the street.
    We called Concha tonight after her class and sang Happy Birthday to her in English. Her students had brought champagne and wine and she said they were all drunk. I told her to enjoy her drunkenness and she repeated that for the class. She was very glad that we had called. I like to remember her birthday.

Wednesday May 21, 2008
    We are slowly getting better. Yesterday the weather was cold and rainy. Today it started off cold and then warmed up. Lakshmi returned yesterday and will stay with us until her apartment is free. They lost her luggage too and now she has to go to the airport for customs to reclaim it. We were lucky we didn’t have to do that. I’m not sure why.
    This morning we had our usual breakfast at Algabeño. We see many of the same people there day after day. It is truly a neighborhood bar. I am fascinated by the older women here. They dress up to do their grocery shopping. They wear knee length skirts and nice sweaters and look wonderful. Many of these women still dye their hair. They join each other at the small round metal tables and have coffee or tea. One woman, whom I think is the grandmother and not the mother, wheels her baby girl, Esperanza, into the bar almost every day when she is done shopping. Today she needed to leave the baby so she could put her groceries away. The other women watched the baby, cooing to Esperanza, whom they kept quite content.
    The younger women in Spain wear low cut jeans and shirts to their waist, exposing some stomach or hips and underwear. They wear tennis shoes and look quite un-glamorous. The older women with grey hair don’t seem to dress up as much as the ones who still dye their hair.     After Freddie and I had finished eating and were leaving, the three men who work there said “See you tomorrow” (but in Spanish). They now count us as “regulars”.
    We decided to walk to the Chino (Chinese) store to check for a shower chair for Freddie. We found one and also bought two mugs and two glass pan lids for the frying pans I bought at Carrefour a few weeks ago.
    Upon arriving home I realized that one lid was too large so I took it back to the store. It only took a few minutes to walk there alone. On the way back I ran into Juan del Gastor and Juan Rios (Pepe Rios’ son who lives in the Canary Islands). This was the second time I had run into Juan Rios today. It is nice to live in a “neighborhood”. When I arrived home I discovered that the new lid was still too big so I ran once again to the store and exchanged it one last time. What a luxury to have things so close.
    Then it was almost 1:30, the time I had made a date to talk to Karen. She is a very good friend of my Dad and Peggy’s and was in Sevilla for one day. Karen phoned just after I had arrived home and we agreed to meet for lunch in twenty minutes in front of the Giralda, which I hadn’t yet visited on this trip. Freddie felt too tired to join us. I hurriedly looked for my sunglasses, grabbed a coat, which I didn’t need, and set out walking. It took me almost twenty minutes, walking fast. This year I am finding my way around Sevilla so easily. I just head in a direction and I get there. Karen and I had a delightful lunch on Calle Mateas Gago (in view of the Giralda), eating outside in the now warm day. After lunch I pointed her in the direction of Barrio Santa Cruz (Jewish quarter) and then left her to browse in some open shops.
    I pointed myself in the direction of home and walked straight there. I was expecting a six PM phone call from California a little while after that. And I had a seven o’clock appointment with Cihtli. Lakshmi called as I was walking home and she met me at the house. She needed some computer help with a DVD. She had forgotten something at her house so she had to run back home for it. Then our phone call came and she returned towards the end of it. What a busy day. I lay down for five minutes to wait for Cihtli’s call.
    Cihtli and I went out in the early evening and after doing a little looking on Calle Sierpes we went out for tapas and then later for a desert on the way home. We are having a lot of fun together. And my energy improved with the walk.
    Ethan had stopped by earlier and Freddie told him that he wanted to watch another video at their house, but not so late this time! The taxi home the last time had cost a lot of money. They charge a lot more late at night and then the route to get here by car is complicated. Freddie had wanted to walk home alone from Ethan and Cihtli’s the other night but they (wisely) wouldn’t let him. If he had fallen there would have been nobody with him to help him. And he would have had trouble telling people what was wrong or what he needed. Cihtli and I decided that I should print him up a paper with his name, address, and telephone numbers on it. Freddie is getting better quickly, but he still has real disabilities from the stroke, such as lack of language.
    Lakshmi was getting ready to go out when we arrived home. I remembered that I hadn’t taken the laundry down from the line upstairs on the roof and my nightgown was there. Where did all my time go? I did try out my dance floor today and the sound is booming. Lakshmi suggested putting a blanket under it. I will talk to Angel about that in the morning. At least I felt well enough to try it out. I think the walking makes me feel better.
Now it is after twelve and I am ready for bed. Today is the second day I have not taken my siesta. I can feel it. I think that was why Freddie was so tired today, because he didn’t take his siesta yesterday. He did sleep today.
    Tomorrow is another fiesta day, Corpus day. I didn’t prepare for it because I didn’t know about it until this evening. Karen had mentioned something about it, but she didn’t know much. She just saw people putting up decorations and tents. A store person told Cihtli and me about it, telling us that the store would not be open tomorrow. I forgot that Spain has so many holidays where things close down. Now I remember. I will have to plan better and stock up on food.
    We finished our chicken soup yesterday and I couldn’t figure out what we wanted to eat, so I didn’t buy anything. I guess we’ll have to eat out tomorrow unless the stores are open in the morning.
    I am still waiting to feel like dancing.

Thursday May 22, 2008
    Hanging laundry on the roof, I notice other rooftops and their innovations. We had sun today. Angel heats our water with a solar panel on the roof which is attached to his small hot water tank, also on the roof. When there was no sun, our water was only tepid, but with the sun it is nice and hot. I noticed other solar panels on other rooftops too. I guess Spain is learning to take advantage of its resources.
    Angel also has a vegetable garden of the roof. He grows tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and cabbage. He is very proud of it and it is doing well.
    This morning, since it was a holiday, our favorite Bar was closed, although they had told us yesterday, “Hasta mañana”. A lot of people here, including Juan, had forgotten about the upcoming holiday. Luckily Bar Alegría was open. Juan and Lucy stopped by after their practice and we walked to the Jueves with them. It was late and the people were leaving, but we bought a Flamenco print for a euro.
    Freddie and I returned home and slept most of the day. We are so much better, but this thing is still hanging on.
    We went out for salad tonight. While we were out Ricky Diaz called us on our movi and told us that he had heard on the news that there was a fire in the Santa Cruz mountains. When we got home we received an e-mail from Christine Chavoya telling us more about it. With the heat and the wind, the conditions were right for a giant, out-of-control fire. It started on Mt. Madonna and has spread to Corralitos already. Hopefully it won’t cross the next few mountains and reach our place.

Sunday May 25, 2008
    The fire seems to have spared our house, partly by going the other direction. I feel sad for those who lost their homes.
Freddie and I are much better, but still have lingering coughs.
Yesterday I took a private Bulerías class from Juan Rios, the son of Pepe Rios (older brother to Agustín Rios). Juan del Gastor, his uncle, strongly encouraged me on Saturday to take the class, when we all met at Bar Algabeño. Lucy had taken a class with Juan and loved it. Juan Rios has all of his father’s steps.
    His father, whom I met once in 1980, had impeccable rhythm and taught many of the fine dancers that I admire. I think I already wrote that Pepe Rios’ students included Juan Amaya, Concha Vargas, Carmen Ledesma, Ramon Barúl (Jairo’s father), Torombo, and many more. I remember Pepe as a lean older man with lots of gold. He used a straight black cane to tap the rhythms. Freddie knew Pepe Rios in 1985 when Freddie was here with Agustín Rios. Juan Rios is returning to Los Canarios (the Canary Islands) on Monday.
    I was a little nervous because I hadn’t danced in two months. However I had just started to practice my palmas. Lakshmi has been rehearsing at our house on our tiny stage and Freddie and I have been doing palmas and bastón (rhythmical cane) for her. It is more of a challenge than it sounds, but we did very well. I felt my counter rhythms improve just by holding the base rhythm to Lakshmi’s counter rhythms.
    My class with Juan went very well and now I feel like dancing again. I learned a whole little Bulerías choreography, which I can do at a fiesta. Before Juan arrived, we dragged the stage (with Lakshmi’s help) to the living room so we would have room for Freddie to video the class. I will have another class with him tonight and then Lakshmi will take one too.
    I did get depressed this morning when I looked at one part of the video where I was learning a step. I thought I looked awful and saw that all my bad old habits had reappeared. I had a few minutes of feeling like I should quit dancing and I was fighting my tears during breakfast. Hopelessness comes so easily. Luckily it can leave easily as well. Freddie said he would help me work with the dance and my body today, so there was a ray of hope.
    After breakfast and before siesta time, I went through the choreography and Freddie helped me a lot. I don’t have a dance mirror yet, so Freddie was my mirror and my teacher, correcting me when something looked bad or awkward. I enjoyed practicing again. And I again felt hopeful about my dance. We took our siesta and now I am writing and preparing for my class.
    I can’t believe a month has passed already. It feels like a week. The weather is still cold and it has rained on and off. Friday night Cihtli and I were at Calle Sierpes in our sundresses and it started to pour rain. Almost everyone congregated in the stores to wait out the rain, although some people seemed privy to the rain; they had brought umbrellas!
We walked home during more rain and then went out to dinner with Freddie, as it was too rainy for Cihtli to continue home. Later on, when the heavy rain let up, I lent her a coat and she ran home in her bronze flip-flop sandals.

    Now I have just finished my lesson with Juan and Lakshmi has started hers. Juan gave me an extra half hour “from his heart”. Unfortunately the tape ran out and Freddie didn’t replace it because we thought the class was ending. But Juan gave me an extra unexpected half-hour of class. I am sweating and tired and happy. Juan is a giving person, like his Uncle Juan del Gastor. He is trying to arrange things so he can come here in two or three months again. It would be great to take more classes with him. He works with me on details of head and arms and hands and gaze. I could learn a lot more from him. I find I pick up much faster than I used to and I did much better today than yesterday.
    I thought I had my classes all planned in my mind before we arrived in Sevilla, but this surprise has me dancing again. I am so thankful for that. Freddie videotaped my class again. Now he is resting. I can hear Lakshmi’s class in the living room. Juan is pushing her too, at her level. The spirit of Pepe Rios works through his son for this next generation. Juan looks a little like Agustín, his uncle who is Pepe’s much younger brother. Juan holds his forty-one years well, and his body is trim and strong.
    I love having dancing going on in the house non-stop. It is not exactly non-stop, but it is filling the house. It gives me the feeling of joy and inspiration. I am so thankful that Angel built my stage. Spain again opens up for both of us. Freddie’s walking is still improving. His speed is picking up and he drags his right foot less than before. And my dancing is waking up again.

    I keep forgetting to comment about how ugly our street is. It is wide and filled with dog shit. None of the balconies have the traditional flowers growing in them. Why? Is that a tradition that is dying with the old people? I hope not.
    I find myself gaining weight here in spite of the fact that I’ve stopped eating the delicious jamon Serrano. However, we have been eating late at night and that might be adding the weight. We are both getting fat, which we have to reverse soon!
    Tonight we ate late, but at least we only ate salad. We went out for a drink with Juan and Lakshmi after class, although none of us drank alcohol. We drank fruit juice. Lakshmi hadn’t eaten much all day and was starving and Freddie and I were hungry too. Juan is in mourning for his mother and hasn’t been hungry. He was going to eat at home with his disabled sister. He is sad about having to leave her tomorrow but he has obligations at home in Los Canarios. His mother was only in her seventies when she died. I know I mentioned earlier that Juan was here because his mother had just died. He has a sister and brother here and the brother will now take care of the sister. Freddie told Juan that he wants to see Los Canarios and Juan has invited us to come and visit him. The story unfolds.

End of part IV

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