Sevilla 2008 Part V-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part V

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Monday May 26, 2008
    I emailed another update today, Part IV, but I didn’t go to the cante class I had planned to go to. I have arranged to take a class from Juan del Gastor tomorrow, finally. I am ready. Lakshmi came over and practiced again. Freddie and I did palmas for her Siguiriyas.
    Then she and I made dinner and we all ate at home. That felt good. She is going to wait in line early tomorrow morning at the El Monte Theater to get us tickets for Angelita Vargas. The box office opens at eleven AM but people gather before nine to wait in line. That is so archaic. I hate it, but that is the way things are here and we do want to see the show. Delia and Francesca will also be waiting in line, but they plan to get there even earlier. Delia is Angelita’s sister-in-law and Francesca is Angelita’s niece. And even they have to wait in line.
    Yesterday I hung up four small, embroidered mantones (Spanish shawls) on our walls, green, red, black and turquoise. I had bought them in Sevilla during other years here and I brought from back with me from California. They make the apartment look cheerier and brighter and cover the blotched walls.
    Our friend Lucy in California wrote and asked us how the high price of oil has affected us here. Fortunately we don’t have to pay gas at this apartment and we don't have a car here, but the euro is out of sight. Our exchange rate is awful so everything here is terribly expensive. Something that's only 24 euros is really $40 something dollars. This is the most expensive trip we have experienced here.
    Things are also hard for the Spanish people. They feel that things have gotten very expensive for them too and that life is more of a struggle than it used to be here. And for us it's even more expensive here because of the horrible exchange rate. I keep wishing I could earn some euros. The economy is not good here either. Many buildings are for sale but they are not moving.
    There is a man with a cane who begs on a street corner near us. Freddie makes a point to give him a euro every day when we go to breakfast. Freddie says he just likes the man, he feels a heart connection with him.
    I notice that many old people walk with canes here, more than I notice in California. This morning for a while, each table at Bar Algabeño had a person with a cane. Of curse, people walk more in this culture than they do in Santa Cruz. Maybe that is why I notice so many canes. Crippled people still need to walk to get places. Or is it also that the health care is worse and there are really more people needing canes?
Tuesday May 27, 2008
    I had a good class with Juan today, all cante (singing), Alegrías and Bulerías. We reviewed some of what I had learned already and then we added a new Bulerías. It felt good to continue my studies, however, my energy is still low. But maybe I’m not counting the energy spent walking.
    This morning, after breakfast at Bar Algabeño and orange juice with Lucy, I walked back to the American Consulate, twenty minutes away at a very fast pace. Yesterday I had gone there because I needed to get a document notarized but the Consulate was closed for an American holiday (Memorial day).
    I have been trying to find a notary here for almost a week and finally discovered last Friday that the American Consulate is the only place I can get something notarized for America. By that time it was after one PM and the Consulate closes at one every day. They take both American and Spanish holidays. What a life. I tried Monday and they were closed so I had to wait until today.
    When I arrived there again today the woman at the desk who had told me they were closed yesterday, remembered me. She smiled and said yes. I love that about Spain. Today they were open and the older American man at the Consulate was very nice. But the notary cost me thirty euros, which is quite a bit more in dollars!
    From there I had to go to the post office to mail the document by certified mail. It was the opposite direction from home. I took a number and began to fill out the forms required for mailing internationally. At last they called my number. When I was finished I rushed off to the Mercado near home to get some things before they closed.
    I had to take another number at MariCarmen’s always-crowded Fruteria in el Mercado. There were ten numbers in front of me, so I went to the organic stall to see what they had and returned to the line at MariCarmen’s with still a lot of time to spare.
    Finally I headed for home. I had my class with Juan scheduled for 2:30. And I did get some good walking in, at least an hour at a brisk pace. I don’t seem to count walking as exercise, but I know that walking is exercise.
    I managed a shower and a hair wash this afternoon after my class, while there was still hot water. (There was not much sun to heat the water today). It is now eight PM and feels like four. Freddie is resting on the couch and I am still pushing myself.
The weather is cold and I saw people outside with umbrellas, although I don’t hear the rain. Last year I don’t remember so much cold weather. I’ll probably complain, though, when it gets too hot.
    We are settling in here. We are getting to know people in the neighborhood and my Spanish is improving. Each trip we take is so different. This one so far seems low key and more restful for me. Thursday night we go to a show to see Angelita Vargas, a wonderful dancer. Then Friday we plan to go to Moron to see Juan and Miguel Funi perform again. Saturday our friends Susana and Paco are having an open house. They are moving their art studio to the country.
    Tomorrow Freddie wants to visit Andres at his guitar workshop in Triana and to see how the repairs for his guitar are coming along. Paco and Pili are back from Paris and we talked to Pili and instant messaged with Paco today. Pili offered to pick Freddie up tomorrow and take him to Triana.
    I am trying to decide whether to rest or go out and buy a needle and thread so I can sew a button on Freddie’s shirt. I am definitely more domestic here than at home.

Friday May 30, 2008
    Today is another día de fiesta and things are closed. Wednesday after breakfast at Bar Algabeño Freddie and I realized that the shop next door sold fabric so we went in a bought a needle and thread. It was so easy.
    In the afternoon we went to Triana with Pili and Soleá. Freddie spent time at Andres’ shop watching him work on guitars. Andres is truly a master. He has almost finished work on Freddie’s broken guitar. He has made a new inlaid head and attached it so it looks seamless. He put the wooden pegs in that Freddie had wanted. He just has to polish the guitar and Freddie will have it back. Pili and I went out for a tapa and Andres, Soleá and Freddie met us a little later when Andres left work at 7:30 PM. We went back to our house and showed Pili the photos of Soleá’s communion on the computer.
    I sang an Alegrías for Pili that I had learned from Juan and then she sang one and I danced in the bata that Cihtli had just given me. Cihtli said it was an old bata and would probably be too big but that she didn’t want it anymore and I could do whatever I wanted with it. So I took a little while to unpack it, dreading what I would find. I thought I would be getting an old moldy, ugly unusable skirt the way she had described it. However, when I did unpack it I found a gorgeous purple and orange skirt and blouse. The bata (skirt with a long train) is very long but it is beautiful. It needs a zipper and to have a few holes repaired, but it will be perfect to practice in. Soleá and I danced and Pili and I sang.
    Then Pili drove us to Plaza de Armas where we were meeting Cihtli and Ethan to see the movie of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull in English at the Cine5. We were starved and Soleá wanted Mac Donald’s (pronounced “MaDohna”). Then Freddie decided he would get one too so I also had one, but without the bread. Who would have ever thought …? Then Pili took Soleá home because she had school the next day and Freddie and I went to the theater and saw a wonderful movie with Cihtli and Ethan.
    Freddie and I both slept ten hours that night. Thursday Pili came over with some beautiful clothes from her aunt’s store. She has been working there, and so brought things she thought I might like. I bought a few things. She is taking in one dress for me, which she will bring over today. Lakshmi came over and was using the computer because her internet is down.
    After Pili left the three of us got ready to go to Angelita’s show. We decided to walk, although Freddie was a little achy. That seems to happen when the weather is rainy. It didn’t actually rain, but it could have. I carried the raincoats. It is normally about a ten or fifteen minute walk, but with Freddie it took about forty minutes. He was tired, but he was glad that he had walked.
    Because we hadn’t had much time to get ready I decided not to bring the tape recorder. What a mistake. We loved the show. We thought it was better than most of the Bienal shows we have seen.
    We were in the fourth row way on the end. We could still see very well. It is a good thing that Lakshmi arrived at the line by nine AM last Tuesday, because the associates of El Monte and the Press already had most of the seats. Not everyone of the public who waited in line that day was lucky enough to get a seat. Although people could only buy four tickets per person, there just weren’t many places left. I didn’t realize that the show would be as good as it was.
    Esperanza Fernández substituted for La Macarena who was sick. She was beautiful and sang many songs that I have learned, some that she taught me last year.
Then Angelita Vargas danced a Soleá and was a joy to see. She wore black with red embroidery. I could feel her years of dancing and her difficult life. Now she has re-emerged. She had five musicians to back her up, two palmeros (people who do palmas), a singer, and two guitarists. One palmero was the most well known in Sevilla and three of the other musicians were Amadores (from the talented, Flamenco Gypsy Amador family.
    Next came Pansequito, a singer whose tapes I started listening to in the 70’s. He now has a shock of thick grey hair but his voice is strong and pure, perhaps even better with age. He sang so movingly, accompanied by a superb and sensitive young guitarist, Diego. Pansequito seemed inspired and sang many more songs than were on the program. His Siguiriyas, which he doesn’t normally sing, brought tears, which streamed down my face.
After that Jose Menese sang. He is well known and acclaimed but Freddie and I have never been moved by him. He made the show too long!
    The close of the show was a Tientos/Tango and then a Bulerías by Angelita. She was joined in the Bulerías by her two grandchildren, who were cute and talented. It is always nice to see the next generation of Flamencos emerge.
After the show we all congregated in the nearby bar where the artists eat afterwards. We were invited to sit at the table with Angelita, Delia, Maki (a Japanese Flamenco dancer and aficionada who has lived in Spain for many years, whom we met in 1999), Lakshmi and Susana and Paco. We hadn’t seen Susana and Paco yet this trip and it was nice to visit with them.
    Juan and Lucy sat with Aurora Vargas (a great Gypsy Flamenco singer whom we had passed on the way to the theater and to whom Concha had introduced me in 1999), Pansequito and his guitarist and others. We could have joined them too. How nice.
We had planned to take a taxi home, but Freddie decided he could walk, so we walked home. It took us forty minutes but we did it. We got to bed late again and slept for nine hours!
    Shortly after we got up Lucy and Ethan stopped by. They had gone by Bar Alegría but we weren’t there. (Bar Algabeño is closed Sundays and holidays). Lucy was not as impressed with the show as we were. But she agreed with us about how good the young guitarist was who had accompanied Pansequito.
    Angel came over to fix some things, but he didn’t want to disturb us, although we assured him it wouldn’t bother us. He also told me that I could borrow his eleven-year-old daughter’s bike after he asked her permission. After everyone left we went out to eat. Both Ethan and Lucy were too busy to accompany us.
    We found out that the cook at Bar Alegría is French and that she lives in our neighborhood. I tried to pay with a credit card but they didn‘t want me to. They said that if we didn’t have the money we could bring it by tomorrow! –Another thing I like about Spain. We did have the money, though, so we just paid with cash. I had noticed that the exchange rate had improved a little, so I had wanted to take advantage of that while it lasted and to use the card at that rate.
Pili will come over today and so will Lakshmi, who wants to practice here at five. Cihtli was going to check to see if there were stores open today. If so, we get to go shopping again.
    Lakshmi has a friend who will drive us to Moron, so we will probably go to hear Juan del Gastor and Miguel Funi tonight. We had decided not to go, last night, because we thought it would be too complicated to get there.  
We have a little more sun today, so I wore my new pink cotton skirt and blouse. I felt festive.
    Freddie and I have been thinking about our party and have decided to postpone it. He wants to go to Portugal instead. We have always wanted to visit Portugal so this may be the time. We had also thought about going to the Canarios, but then we heard that they are so volcanic that it is very arid and ugly. So we might as well see Portugal instead. We are hoping that Paco can come and then we would rent a car and he would drive. We have fun traveling with Paco and Pilar.
    Today I haven’t coughed once. Freddie just had a little cough. I think we are just about better, finally.
    I decided to take siesta a little late. After fifteen minutes Lakshmi came over to practice. Then Cihtli came and we went out for coffee before she had to leave. Cihtli says we are “grand central”, that we are the meeting place for everyone. She also loves the feeling of neighborhood here and the fact that we often run into each other. We had seen her earlier when we were eating at Bar Alegría as she hurried to her studio to teach a class.
    Pilar and Soleá came at seven, but we had been expecting them around six. Pilar sewed the button on Freddie’s black shirt because she thought I would never do it. She may have been right, but at least we had the needle and thread. She had fixed my new dress and was about to tighten my new skirt. Soleá danced with Lakshmi and me.                Lakshmi started working with her on ballet turns and spotting. Soleá showed us what she had learned in the children’s ballet class she is taking. I showed them the new Bulerías I had learned from Juan Rios. Paco is busy rehearsing for a show he will do on the fourth so we haven’t seen him in a while. Of course we will go to the show on Wednesday June fourth.
    Around eight thirty I realized that I was too tired to go to Moron. The weather had turned cold again and I had no energy. The show was going to be outside at ten PM and we didn’t know about the chair situation for Freddie. My cough returned.
    After everyone left, around ten, I heated up the cooked vegetables that Lakshmi had brought us this afternoon and we ate. Now it is after eleven thirty and I am ready for bed, early. I am listening to my body and realize that I still have very little reserve energy.

Saturday May 31, 2008
    It is the last day of May. We spoke to Juan today. He had looked for us in Moron. The fiesta afterwards lasted until five in the morning! If we had gone we would have been wiped out, but happy. Instead we took care of ourselves and slept. Juan said the show was wonderful. But they will be doing another show this coming Friday only twenty minutes from Sevilla. We will go to that one.

End of part V

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