Sevilla 2008 Part VII-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part VII

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Tuesday June 17, 2008
    So much has happened that I haven’t written about yet.
     On June 9th we were enjoying an after-dinner drink with Juan and Lucy at Polonio’s Bar outside on Calle Feria. The night was balmy and we were waiting for Freddie’s nieces to arrive. Freddie’s nieces, Leia and Mara, are the beautiful daughters of Freddie’s brother-friend Marcellus and his wife Laura. They all worked at the Renaissance Faire together. Finally our movi rang. The girls were already on our doorstep. I ran to the house to get them and bring them to join us. They dropped off their heavy packs at the house and we hurried back to the bar.
    Leia, who is 28, lives in Puerto Rico and speaks wonderful Spanish. Mara, who is 21, had just finished a six-month stay in Salamanca as part of her University program. The two were traveling around to see a bit of Spain and had just come up from Granada. They are wonderful and we enjoyed their weeklong stay with us.
    Leia told us that as a child living at the Faire site she used to sit mesmerized at Freddie’s feet while he played guitar. She said that she had been fascinated by his hands. That inspired her love of Flamenco.
    The next day, we had a wonderful Freddie’s 69th birthday and our 8th Anniversary day. We had thought about having a party but had decided that it was too much work. We talked about going to a beach later on to celebrate. So nothing celebratory was planned for the day.
        In the morning we went to breakfast with Leia and Mara. Photos . We saw Lucy and Juan as they passed by the bar doing their errands. Lucy joined us for a while. Later, the girls left to see the Giralda and the Alcazar and spent the whole day exploring Sevilla.
    In the early afternoon an American man, Jay, and his Japanese wife Shihu visited us. Jay has been reading my Spain writings on the Internet for the last two years. Shihu is a Flamenco dancer. After arriving in Spain, where Shihu too is studying dance, Jay contacted me. They are a lovely couple who live in San Francisco and will visit us in Soquel when we return. They brought us a book of Pablo Neruda poems as an anniversary gift.
    Next Paco Fernández came over and gave Freddie a guitar rehabilitation lesson. He is a gifted teacher and understands that Freddie already knows what to do and that he just needs help re-learning how to move his hands and fingers. Photos. After the lesson, while he was still at the house playing Freddie’s newly fixed guitar, Lakshmi, Ricky Diaz, and a photographer, Daniella, came over.  Lakshmi and Ricky had come to practice and Daniella was going to photograph Lakshmi. Paco was playing beautiful and inspired music. At this point I had to leave for Pilar’s Bulerías class.
    When I got back home, everyone was still there. One more American dancer had arrived. Cihtli stopped by. Paco played more beautiful music and encouraged me to dance, which I did. It was such a release and a gift. Cihtli said, “You really needed to dance.” She was so right.
    Later Ethan arrived, singing and dancing as he entered. When almost everyone had left, Paco, Cihtli and Ethan and Freddie and I went for ice cream. We called Juan and he joined us. Lucy was packing to leave for England early the next morning and didn’t have time to come. People sang. It was a night of totally spontaneous Flamenco, and such a gift for us.
    Leia and Mara got home afterwards. Paco, who had had a little whiskey, spent the night in my studio-turned-office in a makeshift bed and the girls slept on the living room couch that opens into a double bed. The house was full and joyous.
    The next morning Paco gave Freddie another lesson. The two girls left to see more of Sevilla. Freddie and I decided that we would definitely go to the beach for a few days to further celebrate our anniversary and his birthday. We found a small beach town close to Tarifa, the most southern point of Spain. We started collecting information on buses.
    Thursday we decided to leave, but to rent a car instead of taking the bus. Leia was our driver. We booked rooms in the Hostel part of a hotel. It took me almost all day to pack. I was moving very slowly, but doing our vitamins and medications for six days just takes time. (I always pack for extra days, just in case).
    Finally we left and arrived there late at night. The next morning we went straight to the beach. We pushed Freddie in his non-electric wheelchair. Later he was able to push the chair himself and we just loaded our things in his wheelchair. That way he had a chair to sit in at the beach and a chair to rest in if he got tired walking. The beach is wide and the water blue. Sometimes the beach gets very windy and it did on Friday in the early afternoon. Leia and Mara went in the water but Freddie and I just got our feet wet. It felt too rough for me. At one point we were covered in sand, which stuck nicely to our suntan lotion.
    That drove us away to eat. For lunch we ate in a restaurant whose waiter told us that all the fish had to be frozen first before it could be served in a restaurant, that that was the law. This was to eliminate the possibility of worms. It didn’t feel right for a seaside resort town to serve frozen fish!
We returned to the beach after lunch and the wind had died down. Then we all went into the ocean. Leia and Mara were wonderful and loving about helping Freddie, and they both supported him in the water.
    Coming back from the beach later that day (around seven PM) we found a shack type restaurant near the beach, which Cihtli had recommended for fried food. However the owner told us that fresh fish had come in that day and he described each type of fresh fish lovingly and in detail. His fish wasn’t frozen. We left and checked out another restaurant, showered, changed our clothes, and returned to the “shack”.
    The owner was a total “character”. He had recognized something that Leia had said in Puerto Rican Spanish. It must have brought back memories for him. He told us that he had spent twenty years away, living in Florida, Puerto Rico and Cuba. He had been married in Florida and his mother in law had owned a house in Puerto Rico. Later he had returned to his tiny birth town and had remarried and had children.
    His restaurant was called the Pleamar because the pleamar is a high tide and in winter during the high tide the water comes right up to the door of his restaurant. (He actually told us that pleamar was the highest tide, but another Spaniard said that pleamar was the middle tide and that altamar was the highest tide).
    We noticed that in this resort town we heard mainly Spanish. There were a few German tourists and one English couple. The other tourists were all Spanish, except for us. Photos.
    The next day the girls left to see Tangiers. Freddie and I walked to breakfast and then went into a store and bought some beach things. Freddie found a beautiful pair of designer swim trunks, which we didn’t realize were designer trunks until we paid for them! We also bought some beach mats, a beach towel, and a small sand umbrella. Now we looked like Spanish beach-goers. We already had our suntan lotion from last year.
    Then Freddie and I walked to the beach, Freddie wheeling the chair. We discovered a shorter way to walk there, just a block and a half from our Hostel, to a long wooden bridge and ramp that took us down the beach and over much of the soft sand. We only had to push the wheelchair a little in the soft sand. That is a challenge in itself, as the wheels sink easily in the sand. So, you lift the front wheels and lean into the chair for momentum and push.
    The day was incredible, warm with no wind. We went swimming several times and I floated Freddie in the water.
    As I was feeling ready to leave for lunch and to get out of the sun, Lakshmi called. She and some friends were on their way down to join us for the day. So we stayed and waited for them on the beach. They brought food and we ate. We all went in the water many more times. Lakshmi took Freddie swimming twice and one of her friends also took Freddie in.
    Finally we left and took showers and then Lakshmi and friends showed up and took showers in our room. They were going on to a wedding in Lebrija later that night. We all went to eat in a delicious restaurant and then they left and Freddie and I walked home and went to bed. It had been a perfect day.
    At about one or two that night I woke up and started vomiting. Every hour I vomited, even when there was no food left. Then the diarrhea started. By the next morning I was a wreck. I couldn’t go out with Freddie for breakfast, but I wrote a note for him ordering his food and saying that he couldn’t speak well because of his stroke. I also ordered an orange juice to take out for me, the only thing that seemed tolerable to me. I thought I had food poisoning.
    However, when I reached Lakshmi later by phone, she assured me that no one else had been sick and we had all eaten the same food.
    When Freddie returned, I drank the orange juice and felt a little better. But as I got up to look for his morning medication, I discovered that I was still sick. Unfortunately, I had not packed the Pepto Bismol that I had noticed on my shelf in Sevilla before leaving.
    I slept a little more and then decided that I could just as easily sleep on the beach. So Freddie pushed his chair and I stumbled along with him. We got to the beach and lay down. The day was windier than before but not as bad as Friday.
    I was feeling so weak that I was not as attentive as normal to putting suntan lotion on Freddie. (Later his face got a little red). Leia and Mara called to say that they were back in Spain and would be on the beach with us shortly.
    I needed to go home for a few minutes and I needed to buy some water, as we had used up what we had taken from Sevilla. Freddie requested a coke. Freddie wanted to stay on the beach, so I left him there.
    After using the facilities at our hostel and nibbling on a rice cake, I returned and was buying water and coca cola on the beach when I had another sudden attack of diarrhea. I got to a public bathroom just in time, leaving the drinks at the stand. Luckily I found toilet paper, as I didn’t have my bag with me. When I went to leave I couldn’t get the door open. I banged and pounded and finally screamed “Ayudame” (help me). A woman outside easily opened the door and I was released!
    As I was walking back to the stand I saw Mara, who had found Freddie and was going back to the hostel to get Leia.
    When I returned to Freddie the weather felt too cold and the sea a little too rough for us to go in the water and I felt too weak, so neither of us went swimming on Sunday. Mara and Leia did take a quick dip. They had missed our perfect Saturday at the beach.
    The wind came up again and it got colder and our umbrella blew down. So I packed things up and then the wind died down and it got warm again. So I lay back down on our big new beach towel and rested some more.
    Suddenly Freddie said that he had had enough and was ready to go home, so we left. The wind was picking up again. We went home and showered. Later we all went to eat at the same wonderful restaurant where we had eaten the night before. However, my stomach was still too queasy to eat much and nothing tasted that good.
    That night Freddie felt very sick too, although he didn’t throw up. In the morning he said that he thought we might have had sunstroke. He felt miserable on Monday, the day we had to leave. I had to pack up and almost pour him into the car.
    When we arrived back home in Sevilla Freddie immediately went to sleep. Leia started to cook dinner. I did some Flamenco show research. We had decided to go to the late Flamenco show at Los Gallos because Leia still hadn’t seen Flamenco in Spain and she was leaving the next day. So we pushed ourselves for one more excursion. Freddie woke up and we walked to the Alameda and caught a taxi, arriving just in time at Plaza de Santa Cruz and Los Gallos. I had thought it would be empty at the late show on a Monday night, but I was wrong. It was full and we had to sit upstairs. But it was good, although none of the people I know who work there were performing that night.
    Afterwards we walked through the Barrio Santa Cruz to Santa Maria La Blanca to catch a taxi. As we passed the outdoor café Carmela we saw our old friend May, the owner, sitting there. It was fun to greet her and say hello.
    As we walked further we saw another woman we used to know and she asked us where we had been. I think she is a friend of Paco’s. I always think of her as the “bag lady” because she has that feel. We always see her late at night. She might be rummaging through the garbage bins. It felt like home. Then a taxi came and we grabbed it and took it to Calle Feria and the church. From there we walked the two blocks to our house. What a wonderful last night for the girls.
    Leia and Mara left this morning for Salamanca and the end of their Spain trip. Leia will return to Puerto Rico and Mara will go home to Arizona to see the rest of her family. Mara went out early and bought us some beautiful flowers. We are so glad they visited.
    Freddie is still sick today and has slept all day. I am not feeling entirely well either, I don’t feel quite “here” and I feel a little queasy.
    Tonight I pulled myself away from my writing to drag myself to Pilar’s Bulerías class. I drank vitamins and vitamin C and took my green vegetable pills for energy. When I arrived I discovered that Pilar was still out of town. However, three other dancers were there and we practiced and they went over the choreography with me. It was fun and I felt better by the end of the hour.
    Afterwards, I met Rina for “drinks”; we both drank our own water, in the Plaza Pelicano. She just arrived in Sevilla and will be here for three weeks. I met Rina briefly last year in Pilar’s class. She has been reading the Spain writings on the website and we have exchanged e-mails. She brought us some organic tea for colds. Rina is taking classes from many of the Flamenco teachers I have studied with here: Torombo, Concha, Juana Amaya. She takes three hours every morning with Torombo. If I could get up early enough I could go. We’ll see.
    Rina also takes from Cihtli and Ethan when they come to Atlanta, where she lives. Flamenco is such a small community. She took a cante class with Juan today (on my recommendation). She also wants to take cante with Ines Bacan and maybe we’ll make it together.
Rina and I stayed in the Plaza until her friend Rebecca arrived. Rebecca, whom I had met recently with Cithli and Ethan at the ice cream place, is also from Atlanta. She had just finished a lesson with Ethan. Her Spain trip is almost over.
    Tomorrow I have a practice with Biba, one of the dancers from Pilar’s class. I also met her last year. She lives in Sevilla. Biba will come to the house and we will use our stage here. After that I have a cante class with Juan.
    When I arrived home tonight Freddie was gone. As I was calling him I saw our notepad on the floor in the living room in the middle of the stage. It said “ice cream”. And that is where Freddie was. He had taken his electric wheel chair out to the Alameda and up to the ice cream place.
    The electric wheel chair is giving Freddie some independence, the first since his stroke. I walked to the ice cream place to join him and he wasn’t there. I called him again. He had gone to meet me but I had taken a short cut and hadn’t seen him. So I started walking back and he found me. Then we returned to the ice cream place where he had ice cream and I had papaya juice.
    I still feel a little dizzy and tired. Freddie had slept all day and seemed to feel a little better. I did a lot of walking today, and I walked much more slowly than normal. I was tired and did not have my usual energy.
    In checking sunstroke and heatstroke on the web I think that we don’t have that although we have some of the symptoms. Perhaps we have the flu. I may have a concussion too. I bumped my head twice in the Hostel, the second time quite hard, in the bathroom of the hostel. I had reached down to pick up some toilet paper up off the floor and the way the toilet was designed, when I raised my head it clunked against the marble sink. I remember wondering if I had a concussion and then I forgot about it. Signs of concussion are vomiting, dizziness, fatigue. Hopefully I’ll get better soon.
    I could have suffered from some of all of the above, plus the fact that I had eaten some oily fried foods at the restaurant the night before. That meant that I had eaten wheat, which I am allergic to. And I rarely eat fried foods, even here in Spain, so that might have been hard on my stomach as well.

Wednesday June 18, 2008
    So many women with baby carriages pass by us. Sometimes men pass by wheeling babies too. I keep thinking of how much fun it will be when Elun, Donna and Josie arrive on the 25th. Josie will have turned two by then.
    Today we saw an old man sitting outside Algabeño. We took a table next to him. It seemed as if the whole world greeted him –a true local. He held court from his aluminum chair by the back church wall.
    Juan passed us and stopped for a few minutes on his way back from the market. He has to clean the house today because Lucy is returning tonight. He said that there are stacks of dirty dishes waiting for him. Men! He says that all men are that way. Freddie says that he is not. Photos.
    After breakfast when I went to pay my bill, one of the sons (who works at Algabeño) gave us two presents. Freddie got a pen with Algabeño written on it and I got a gift-wrapped silver-looking compact with a mirror and a sewing kit in it. Algabeño was written across the top next to a cup of coffee. Now I have enough thread to repair my blouse.
    Shortly after we arrived home Lakshmi visited for a few minutes. Then Biba came and we practiced for over an hour. Freddie helped keep compás with his cane. He also videoed the end so I would have a visual record of the choreography. I helped Biba with some new steps that go at the end of the choreography. She was a great help to me in learning the choreography.
As Biba was ready to leave, Juan came for my cante class. We did cante with baile (dance) today and I learned a new Bulerías letra (verse) with a tag on the end of something I had already learned. It was fun.
    When Juan left, Freddie lay down to sleep and I started to review the videotape that we had made of the choreography. When I saw my dancing on the tape I also worked more on my style for many of the steps.
    I danced/practiced for a few hours and then Ethan stopped by to visit. Freddie got out of bed to see Ethan too. Ethan and Cihtli will be leaving so soon and as I have said before, we will really miss them. After a little while Ethan left to continue his packing.
    I worked on my dance a little more and then, finally, was ready to rest. I started to work on my writing and then Freddie suggested that I call Pili to invite them to ice cream. Soleá was still asleep and Pili said she would call later if they had time for ice cream. She would tell Paco too.
    Freddie was still up and he wanted me to review the choreography again. So we worked on it a little more, both with the videotape and also with some audio l recorded of class the last time Pilar was there. I will certainly be more prepared for class tomorrow night, although I haven’t memorized it all yet. Biba offered to practice with me again an hour before class, at the Plaza Pelicano studio.
The wonderful thing is that I felt like dancing again. I had energy for dance, so I must be better. It has been a while since I have been able to practice so fervently. I am so grateful to have a dance floor in our apartment. It makes this possible.
    Cihtli stopped by on her way back from el centro and a day full of errands. I ended up showing her my choreography and the steps I was going to re-style. I checked some compás questions with her and realized that my guesses had been right. For example, Cihtli told me that Pilar always does her jumps on three and four. I had guessed that the jumps had to go there so that I could walk out on six, eight and ten. It was nice to know that I had been right.
Freddie wanted ice cream again, so we all went out and down the Alameda to the ice cream place. Freddie confidently drove his wheelchair. In the end, we all had fresh fruit drinks there instead of ice cream. And we each had two, because they were so good.
    As we ate, the popcorn smell wafted by from the movie theater so Freddie wanted popcorn. We went inside the arcade and asked if we could enter the theater to buy popcorn and they said yes. Freddie on high speed headed towards the glass doors. He misjudged the width of the open door and started to crash into the closed door as the staff ran frantically to open it. Then Freddie went speeding around the marble floor of the theater until he came to a step. Cihtli went up the step and bought the salty popcorn.
    Sometimes in that chair Freddie is like a bull in a china shop. Cihtli and I just laugh as people run out of his way. He now parks a little better at the tables, and doesn’t crash into them like he used to. He has learned to set his speed slower to park. Tonight someone moved a potted plant out of his way as he crashed his way to an empty table. Cihtli and I both just laugh and let everyone else deal with it.
    It’s amazing how many people he passes seem oblivious that he is in a wheelchair. Some of them hardly move out of his way in time. I still need to buy him a flag. Luckily he walks to the closer destinations, so he exercises.

End of part VII

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