Sevilla 2008 Part VI-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part VI

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Sunday June 1, 2008
    We have been here a month. Yesterday I took Freddie, with his wheelchair, on a trip to El Centro (downtown –in this case, Calle Sierpes, the shopping area). To start, after a brief journey on our bumpy street and the “iffy” sidewalk of Peris Mancheta, I wheeled him down the smooth pavement of the Alameda. That part was easy. At the end of the Alameda, where the street turns into Amor de Dios and the sidewalks narrow in spots and fall away and the cobblestones make pushing a wheelchair much harder, Freddie got out and walked, pushing the wheelchair to stabilize himself. He climbed back in when we reached the smoother pavement of el centro. We actually arrived at the center much faster than I had expected. Freddie is getting stronger.
    We met Cihtli, as arranged, at La Campana, a coffee and sweets outdoor restaurant near where Calle Sierpes begins. It was filled with Saturday afternoon people and no free tables, so instead of having coffee there we strolled through the very crowded streets, passing the street musicians and many still-open shops.
This was the first time that Freddie had been to the area this trip. Freddie loves shopping and people and was in heaven. He ended up buying three pairs of white pants at Zara for men, a large department store that keeps extended hours. Now Freddie is set for the summer.
    On the way home Cihtli helped push the wheelchair. After a short tapa stop as we started back, we arrived at La Alameda and had ice cream. With Cihtli we always eat ice cream. We’re going to miss Cihtli and Ethan when they leave in July. They will be away for six months.

Wednesday June 4, 2008
    We had quite a scare on Monday. Freddie couldn’t walk. He had tremendous pain in his back and I had to help him to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He was also coughing violently for much of the night. Monday morning Lucy came over and offered help and massaged Freddie’s back. Then Lakshmi showed up. Lakshmi stayed with Freddie until I returned from my dance class. That day I was starting a small two-week (five hours per week) class with Pilar (Farrucos) from two to three in the afternoon and I didn’t want to miss the first class. Lakshmi was my lifesaver. She called the masseuse Alicia and also Francesca to see if her husband Toshi was available to help Freddie. We have worked with both of them and they are both excellent. Francesca reminded Lakshmi about Dr. Bolaño, her mother’s doctor, whom we had seen last year. He only keeps afternoon and evening hours.
    By the time I had returned from class, Lakshmi had already dressed Freddie and put him into the wheelchair. We wheeled Freddie (Lakshmi expertly pushing the chair) along the bumpy cobblestone streets to see Dr. Bolaño, the kindly old semi-retired doctor we had seen last year. There was no one else in the waiting room so we got to go right in. Dr. Bolaño says that Freddie just has a bad cold and that Freddie's lungs are fine and there is no infection. He also said that Freddie’s blood pressure was too low. He recommended that Freddie decrease some of his medications and prescribed a pill for more energy.
We also got a prescription for a coagulation blood test for Freddie’s coumaden level. So after we left Dr. Bolaño’s, we wheeled Freddie to the blood lab and had the test done. We used the lab I had discovered last year after a frustrating day of trial and error looking for a lab that we could use without Spanish insurance. This time, wiser than last year, we walked straight there and only had a fifteen-minute wait. I had to pick up the results the next day.
    We are assuming that Freddie pulled a muscle coughing and that explained why he wasn't able to walk for a day and a half.
    Yesterday he had a massage with Alicia and her partner Perla and now he can walk again! They worked magic. It was very scary when Freddie couldn’t walk. We always fear another stroke. He is still in some pain and not walking as well as before, but he is much better than Monday. It was a good thing we still had his wheelchair. Lakshmi took him to and from his massage while I took another dance class. People are being wonderful, coming over and sitting with him while I am away and just stopping by to check up on him. He seems a little better today. I wheeled him to Bar Algabeño yesterday and today. Yesterday they asked what had happened when they saw Freddie in a wheelchair. Before Monday he had been just using his cane and walking there. They are very nice at Algabeño.
    Today Freddie lost his wallet there. When we arrived home, after grocery shopping at el Mercado, we discovered that it was gone. He had last had it out at Algabeño. It must have dropped out of his pocket. I don’t think it could have been pick-pocketed because he was in his chair the whole time we were out. I retraced his path but it was nowhere to be found. I ran into Lucy while I was looking and she accompanied me. Someone had slashed all the tires of the cars on her street and she had been busy taking care of replacing her car’s tires and doing the proper paperwork for insurance. The security guard at the Mercado told us that if he found the wallet he would drop it off at the bar. He was referring to Bar Algabeño. I guess we are getting known!
    When I got home I had to cancel the credit card, which meant first calling Lucy to find out how to make a collect call from the home phone! Zero did not get an operator here in Spain. After finally getting through to the card company on the third try, I was able to cancel the card. I had tried to take out money with it earlier in the day, but the machine wasn’t working. The exchange rate is a little better today and I wanted to take advantage of that. Now I can’t take out money at all because that card is canceled. I have to wait for a new card to arrive. Lucy has offered to lend me cash if I need it. I really appreciate our friends.
    Cihtli and Ethan have both stopped by to check on Freddie. Juan has called. Lucy offered to spend time with him while I was gone on Monday. Last night when I was at dance class, Pili, Soleá and Pili’s mother Josefina came over and stayed with Freddie after Cihtli, who was watching him, left for Concha’s dance class. He can walk, but he is not all better.
    Now when something happens with Freddie we both get a posttraumatic stress reaction. We each had all the fears of another stroke or a hospital trip. I’m so glad that wasn’t necessary. Freddie is coughing less today. I think I will get him another massage tomorrow or the next day. Lakshmi has a massage tonight and I was lucky enough to have one last night after Pilar’s evening class. The evening class happens only two days a week. Last night was the first time I went and they were very advanced in the choreography. I and another new person will go at six PM tomorrow night to get some instruction by another student. Luckily some of the choreography is being covered in our daytime class. I was really lost last night and frustrated.
    I had wanted to take Inez Bacan’s cante class on Monday and Wednesday and then Concha’s class, but first Freddie’s doctor’s visit interfered and today the card fiasco. I have to make the chicken soup I didn’t have time to make in the morning and I just don’t feel like going all the way to Triana today. I am tired. I guess I will try again next week.

    Paco Fernandez has a show tonight at 11 at the Malendar club, on Calle Torneo. We plan to go unless Freddie is too sick. Pili can take us in her car.
Juan is doing another show with Miguel Funi this Friday night about 15 minutes outside of Sevilla. We plan to go to that one too, but need to find a ride.

Friday June 6, 2008
    Juan’s show got canceled due to a death in the family of the president of the Peña in the little town of Albaida del Aljarafe. They might do the show next week. We even had a ride, thanks to Lakshmi. But Freddie’s back got worse again this morning. I was able to arrange another massage for him with Alicia and Perla today and then Freddie slept the rest of the day. So it was good for us that we stayed home. He still has a lot of mucous and his cough.
    Paco’s show last Wednesday night was fun and there were lots of family there. Freddie was well enough to go. Paco asked us to bring our video camera and some of his professional friends videoed with it. I audio recorded. Pili drove us there and back.
Thursday evening, when I returned from my evening class with Pilar, Paco and Pili were at our house. Andres had brought over Freddie’s restored guitar and put strings on it for Freddie. He had just left before I arrived. After I showed everyone my new dance steps, which they loved, Paco invited us out for caracoles (snails), which are in season right now.
    We stopped and picked up Soleá from Pili’s parent’s house and then went to the best caracoles place in the area, an outdoor restaurant in the Macarena (our neighborhood). We ate both caracoles and cabrillas (bigger snails), which were delicious.
The weather has been warmer and the night was balmy but cool enough so that everyone was comfortable with long sleeves.
    Today Freddie was in pain again. He still has a lot of white mucous coming out of his nose and throat. He didn’t even leave the house for breakfast. Lucy and I bought him some cough medicine after our breakfast and coffee. We also brought him food from Algabeño. Then I went to Pilar’s fifth two PM class and discovered that it is the last one. It will not run the second week as planned, because it is small and one of the dancers is leaving today. I loved that class. It is a little slow but lots of fun. And I’ve learned some nice things.
    The twice-weekly evening classes will continue. I went an hour early on Thursday night and two students helped me learn the choreography. It included some of what we learned in the afternoon class, but in a different order! How confusing. But I love Pilar’s material and her style and it looks good on me. Both last year and this year everyone loves what I do that I have learned from her.
    I am still planning on going to Triana for classes. But now Cihtli is saying that I should take Bata from Yolanda, which is at night too. Yolanda is the bata expert who trained both Cihtli and Lakshmi in bata de cola. I worked for two hours today in Cihtli’s studio, because Lucy, who rents it too, had forgotten to cancel and had two hours booked which she couldn’t use. She gave those two hours to me. It was perfect for practicing bata. I wore the new purple and orange one that Cihtli had given me. I had just had the zipper replaced and the torn ruffle removed. It fits me perfectly! Conveniently, Cihtli stopped over just before I was leaving, so she came with me and gave me some pointers. She stayed until she had to leave for Concha’s class in Triana. She says that she loves Concha’s class and that Concha is a wonderful teacher and very grounding. I am glad.
    The weather has turned warm, finally. I love it. But everyone is tired. We now have plenty of hot water, with the sun heating it on the roof. I was able to take a very hot shower tonight and we didn’t run out of hot water! This is where solar hot water heating truly makes sense!
Our first replacement credit card came coincidentally the day after Freddie lost his wallet! Our MC cards had been replaced with AMEX cards and Rama (our trusty assistant at home in California) had already mailed my new card to us. The old card wasn’t working because the new one had been activated, which automatically deactivated the old cards! I can take more money out at a time with this new card, so we were able to get out the money to pay for Freddie’s guitar repair, which was a lot, even with our “family” discount of 300 euros off the price. Andres did a superb job of restoring it. He also put on the wooden tuning pegs that Freddie had wanted. The guitar looks new and beautiful.

Saturday June 7, 2008
    Freddie is a little better today, but still back in his wheelchair. It was hot this morning and I dressed for summer in my new fuscia cotton skirt and blouse. I bought the outfit when Pili brought over the clothes for me to try from her aunt’s store, where she is now working.
    I wheeled Freddie to breakfast at Bar Algabeño at about eleven thirty this morning. First Lucy passed us and stopped for orange juice and a visit. Then Rebecca, a young Venezuelan widow with two beautiful daughters passed by and joined us. We first met her when she and her friend Juliana came one year from Idaho to one of Juan’s courses at our house. I remember they both learned the cante very quickly. Rebecca is now living in Spain.
    Next Frank, a German artist in an electric wheelchair joined us. He is a neighbor of Juan and Lucy’s. We met him last year. Then Juan stopped by, wet from running for an hour and a half. He is lowering his high blood pressure with this exercise and it is working. And he looks great, very fit. He left quickly to go home and shower.
Lucy went on to do her grocery shopping. Frank told Freddie that he had an extra electric wheelchair that Freddie could borrow for our stay here. So a little while later we went down the block, half way to Juan and Lucy’s, to Frank’s house and picked up the new chair. Now Freddie is learning how to drive an electric wheelchair. What luck! Freddie is in heaven. He has wanted an electric wheelchair for some time and now he has one.
    Frank has lived in Spain for twenty-one years. He came here as an archeology student of the Aztec culture and language but he fell in love and married and had two children. That distracted him from his studies. Now he is divorced and he lives in the bottom part of the house. His ex-wife has to sell her part of the house and he has first option to buy it but doesn’t have the money. She has a buyer but he wants to see if she will sell it to us instead, using his option to buy it. He wants someone to buy it whom he knows and wants as neighbors.
    We’ve only seen photos of it, but it seems nice and the street is beautiful and picturesque and apparently filled with Bohemian artists. The balconies have decorative iron grills and on this street people still keep live flowers in them. The next-door neighbor, who watches things for Frank when he is away, is a retired dancer who has danced all over the world. I don’t know about a dance studio here, but the roof is big and may be a possibility.
    Frank will try to arrange for us to see the house this weekend, but it sounds like the communication between him and his ex-wife is awful. So this deal might fall through from the beginning. We will see. The price is only OK. But we are open.
As I have said, but maybe not written, if something falls into our laps, fine. Otherwise the exchange rate makes things too expensive to buy a house or an apartment right now.
Ethan says that now is not the time to buy and the price isn’t that low. But we will look at it. Both Lucy and Cihtli have offered to come with us when we look at it. Housing prices are continuing to drop here, as things are not selling quickly.
    Late this afternoon, after our naps, Cihtli came by and we all went for a stroll on the Alameda. Freddie of course was in his electric wheelchair, leading the way. He took us to the ice cream restaurant we had stopped at the other day. They also sell healthy juice drinks so I had a mango drink instead of ice cream. Cihtli was going out to dinner later, so she only had a Tonica (tonic water) with lemon. I had one too.
    Ethan called and was looking for us so Freddie, in his magic chair, zoomed out on the Alameda and found him. Then Ethan, Cihtli and an American student of theirs who had just arrived from Atlanta left to go out for dinner.
    As Freddie and I were going home, my new turquoise and gold sandal broke. I tried sitting on Freddie’s lap as he drove his chair, but I was too heavy. So I limped along beside him, dragging my foot to keep the shoe on. The ground is way too dirty here to go barefoot. Even with shoes, you have to be careful not to step on the dog shit that booby traps the streets and sidewalks. At this point the arch strap was intact but the thong had broken. Part of the time I had to squeeze my toes to keep the shoe on. Of course it was my right foot, the one with the ankle I sprained that took four years to heal. The ankle is still a little sensitive and weak.
    As we turned into our street, the arch strap broke too! There was now no way to keep the shoe on. So Freddie traded places with me. I drove the wheelchair and he walked behind me, holding on to the back of it. I had just broken-in these new sandals, which I had brought from America. They were beautiful. Now they are trash. At least they didn’t break when I was all the way downtown!

End of part VI

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