Sevilla 2008 Part X-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part X

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Monday June 23, 2008
    My Internet miraculously came on again. I tweaked a few things when I woke up this morning, but I am not sure what helped. We saw Silvio last night at the Flamenco show and he told me something that may have helped. He is an internet/networking expert who works for the telephone company here.  He is supposed to come over today to help. Now I don’t know if I need it! How fortunate.
Angel unplugged his set five minutes before he had looked at my email telling him that it was working. He has re-plugged the Ovis link in (it is supposed to send the wifi signal through the walls via the electricity), but now the Internet is not working again. And of course I had cancelled Silvio just before this happened.
    So I danced and Freddie played music. He kept the rhythm with the bastón (cane) while I practiced counter-time with my feet. I also practiced Bulerías from both Pilar and Juan Rios. I did footwork patterns to Freddie’s practice strums on the guitar as well as doing the counters. This is the first time we have really worked out together since his stroke. It is amazing.

Monday July 7, 2008
    I had another cante class with Juan del Gastor today and it went very well. I especially did my Alegrías well. Freddie played a little bit with Juan for part of the class. His formerly callused fingers on his left hand had deep string marks in them after the class. He has to rebuild those calluses.

    We just plugged the Internet extender into a different port in Angel’s modem and now I have Internet again!
    But, the Internet is still on and off. Silvio will come either tonight or tomorrow to make it better. Angel and I ran up and down the stairs trying to fix it, but with no success.
Angel found an old TV he had that is bigger than the tiny one in our apartment and he brought it down for Freddie. It now sits on a chair in our living room and is twice as big as the little one Freddie was watching. As I have said before, Angel is a lovely man and very generous and giving. He even offered to go to the Dia market with me to buy some beer for Paco, but I told him I knew where it was and that I have been there before. I know he feels bad about the Internet. He went out to buy a long Internet cable but I think that he didn’t find one easily because he returned without it.
    Freddie has a class with Paco tonight and then Pili and Soleá will come and we will all eat caracoles (snails) together. Pili told me that they are in season now but won’t be later, so we have to eat them now!
    Paco came over alone and after Freddie’s wonderful lesson the three of us ate the caracoles that had come from a friend of Paco’s bar. They were delicious and filling.

Thursday July 10, 2008
    I am writing this on my wireless keyboard synced with my palm pilot on the train to Jerez. We are going to Sanlúcar to visit Keith and Yvonne.
    Last night we went to see Son de la Frontera at the Castle in Alcalá de Gaudaira, about 20 minutes from Sevilla. No one we knew was going so we couldn't find a ride. But since I had already bought tickets with good seats over the Internet, we decided that we had to go. And we love the castle site. We were going to take a bus, but the nice cab driver offered us a good price and we went with him. We had plenty of time and got there early.
    The driver told us about a dragon bridge that they had built during the last three or four years. We were there at the Castillo last year with Paco and Pili, but we had never arrived during the daylight so we hadn't known about the dragon bridge. The driver took us around and we actually drove over the bridge. It is completely mosaic-ed and is quite beautiful. It is in view of the castle. I don’t think the driver had actually seen it before either. He was very interested in it. 
    After that we wound our way up to the castle, the driver asking directions every few minutes. We arrived as the sun was setting and the weather was warm but not too hot. The driver was so nice that Freddie gave him an extra tip, even though you don't tip often or much in Spain.     Then we sat at outdoor tables in the dirt at the bar and had some food and waited for the entrance to the theater part (it is also outside) to open.
    After a few minutes I saw Pepe's girlfriend, Sara, at the entrance (behind the no admittance sign) and I went up to say hello. She is half American but grew up in Spain. She speaks English, but haltingly and with an accent. We met her years ago in the Carboneria after Pepe had first stayed at our home in California.
    Sara came out and walked to our table to say hello to Freddie. She is a very nice, warm and caring person. She stayed with us and walked us in when the doors opened.
    We had seats in the 4th row and they were great. As usual the show was wonderful. Their friend David "el Galli" sang with them as an invited artist. He is wonderful too. He doesn’t look the part with his short hair, tennis shoes and boyish look, but when he opens his mouth history comes out.
    Of course I turned the sound off on my móvil until the end of the show. When I turned it on again there was a text message from Miguel. Miguel, who has a car, was supposed to come with Lakshmi after she finished working at Los Palacios. We had arranged to go home in his car, as there are no taxis around there late at night. The text message said that he had to stay in Sevilla that night and he thought that there was a bus leaving Alcalá around 1:30 AM. Of course getting to the bus station would have been a challenge in itself.
    Meanwhile Sara came to take us backstage. She made sure that Freddie had a chair to sit in and that we had drinks. She was absolutely lovely. I mentioned the transportation problem to her and she was sure that Raul, the tres player, was returning to Sevilla that night with his sound technician. She said she would ask him. The others all live in Moron.
    Raul was happy to take us, but first everyone was going to eat at the bar. Freddie and I had brought the DVDs I had made for each band member of their shows in Carmel and San Francisco, California earlier this year and I finally had a chance to give them to them. The DVDs are not professional quality but they are nice mementos of their time in California. And they were eager to have them.
    We saw an old Flamenco singer there whom we have known since 1999. We used to run into him in Barrio Santa Cruz but had not seen him lately. We never knew his name, but we called him “The Hat”. He also came backstage and stayed to party. He had moved to Alcalá, which is why we hadn’t seen him in a while. He had his grandsons there with him.
    We all left the backstage area and went out to the outside bar and had drinks and tapas. Guitars sounded and people started singing and we partied late. Moi de Moron's (the incredible singer with Son de la Frontera) two-and-half year old daughter, Manuela, was there. We noticed her dancing in compás in front of the front row, on the dirt during the show. She is adorable. Moi’s wife was also there with their 1-week-old daughter in a baby carriage. Sara videoed taped the after-party as well as the show. It was fun. We got home at 3:30 AM and got to bed at four AM. Photos: Son de la Frontera, the castle, and the after party.
    When we saw Lakshmi the next day (today) she said we should have called her and she would have come for the party! Lakshmi and Susan came over to our house at noon, as arranged, and Susan took us all out to lunch. Susan is leaving for the US today and we will miss her. The four of us ate at Bar Eslava, a wonderful restaurant that we hadn't been to yet this year. Photos: Lunch with Susan
    I don't think that I wrote that Pilar canceled this Thursday's class, which is why we left for Sanlucar on Thursday instead of Friday.
    Freddie had another great class with Paco on Monday night. Tuesday night Pili and Soleá stopped by and we also had fun with them. I taught Soleá a llamada I had learned at Pilar’s dance class and then Pili learned it too.
    I also showed them the photos of Josie wearing the yellow dress they gave her before she left. It turns out that Soleá was the one who had picked it out. Pili had wanted to buy another one but Soleá had insisted on this one. They miss Josie too!
    Then Soleá played schoolteacher and was quizzing us, first on scientific facts and then with math. She was cute and you can see that she enjoys school and learning.
    Wednesday morning while eating at Algabeño, Paco showed up. He had forgotten that he had to teach and he came to borrow Freddie's student guitar, which he has borrowed before. He had an orange juice with us.
    I also discovered something very important that day at Algabeño. One of the brothers, the tall one with the beautiful eyes, introduced me to their mother, whom I had seen there. She is the cook and he told her how much I like her espinicas and that I wanted the recipe. He assured me that they don't usually give away their recipes. He said that he wanted us to be able to remember them when I cooked it. He was the one who had given us the little gifts earlier.
    The mother, Rosa, a surprisingly trim woman for being a cook, will give me a written copy when we return on Monday. However, she told me the recipe and I discovered that my favorite dish has bread in it. That explains why I am always so tired after breakfast and have to lie down when we get home. It also explains why I have gained weight! I have actually thought about ordering a special batch from her without the bread.
    I am losing some of my weight because I have been cooking and we have been eating at home more. I have made gazpacho, chicken with brown rice and vegetables, and also meat with the same. They have delicious, long, frying green peppers here, which are not at all hot. I also use a lot of tomatoes here. –And of course lots of garlic.
    It's hard to write on a wireless keyboard because it is made for a hard surface and not a lap on a train. However, it is much better than writing by hand. I am lucky to have this technology.
    I didn't want to lose this freshness of experience while we were away and I didn't want to lug my computer. We are still having Internet problems at home. But hopefully we'll solve them this week when we return.
    We're almost there. The taxi driver today wanted to take us to Sanlucar for 115 Euros. When I said no, and that we were taking the train to Jerez and our friends were picking us up, he said there might not be trains. I told him I had looked it up on the net and he again said that there might not be trains. I said, if so, we were in trouble. He had to accept that answer and we continued on to the train station. We spent just over five euros to get to the station and the train cost 13.50 euros total. And the train ride is nice. We are enjoying it.
Monday July 15, 2008
    Now we're on the train coming back from Keith and Yvonne’s. We had a lovely time with them at their peaceful house in Sanlucar, a block and a half from the beach. They have refurbished an old house they bought when they moved here. It has trees and flowers, a beautiful kitchen and lots of light. It has a wonderful shower.
    But the thing that has impressed me the most is the built in dance floor in the living room, flush with the surrounding tiles. There is no tripping and it looks great. The dance floor photos . I didn't bring my dance shoes this time, but I practiced in the shoes I had. I reviewed the Bulerías I learned from Pilar and practiced putting different styles into the steps. There was a long rectangular mirror there so I could correct things. The "American" style kitchen (kitchen separated from the living room by a bar and not in is own separate room) made it very easy to socialize, cook and dance.
    Keith has played guitar with Freddie for many years. Freddie met Keith in the 70's after Keith had returned from living in Spain. Shortly thereafter Freddie introduced Keith to me. Keith ended up living at my house in Watsonville for a while.
Later Keith and Freddie worked together a lot in North Beach. Keith met Yvonne, his wife, around then.
    He thinks a lot about dates and he figured out that today was his thirty year anniversary of meeting Freddie! Keith has an uncanny memory for dates.
Keith knows Freddie well and what kind of musician Freddie is. So he worked with Freddie's thumb, which is now something easier for Freddie to use than his other fingers. He had Freddie play a Zambra with his left hand, using only the thumb on his right. Freddie and Keith actually managed to play music together! It was wonderful.
    Freddie's musician friends are creative and each adds something to his rehabilitation.
Freddie and I had a relaxing and enjoyable time with them. We went to the beach, we went out to eat, and Keith cooked several incredible dinners for us. Yvonne presented wonderful breakfasts.
She also took me to the stalls where the Senegalese sell gorgeous and cheap clothes from India and other countries. I got some beautiful and very cheap things, which I wore immediately. I was so excited. It was like playing dress-up.
    We plan to visit again before we leave. Keith and Yvonne have both retired here and have all the proper permits and visas. They love Sanlucar and their neighbors. They talk about the colorful personalities of their friends and I think they should write a book of these character sketches.
    The whole time we were in Sanlucar Freddie did not use his wheelchair or his cane! I had insisted we take the wheelchair, although Freddie didn’t want to. So we collapsed it and hauled it into the taxi. At the train station we had to open it up and we put a bag on it. We dragged it up onto and off the train, often with the help of other passengers. It made our traveling much more intense. And we didn’t even need it. I am thrilled.
Tuesday July 16, 2008
    We came back from Sanlucar so that I could go to my dance class. Pilar had assured us that she would be there on Tuesday since she was missing Thursday. But she wasn’t. I arrived early and there was nobody there.  Finally Marta came and we reviewed the dance. After a while we both made phone calls and Marta found out that Pilar wasn’t coming. This is getting old. She still owes us two classes. We found out that she is starting a Cursillo and we can come to class at two or three o’clock to make up the hour. Except that she owes us two more hours. Marta is going to the later class, and I realized that by doing that she will probably get a whole class. Since Pilar always starts late, I assume that she will in the daytime as well. So I will join Marta in the second class in hopes of getting more of what I have already paid for!

Wednesday July 16, 2008
    We just received two photos of Josie taken by a Dutch woman with her cell phone in La Giralda. Quinta Brandt, the photographer, just sent them to me over the Internet. Things like this make me believe in people. Photos: Josie in Giralda in Flamenco outfit.
    I found out today why Pilar (Farruco) sits so much when she teaches class. She has bad knee problems, Marta told me. I called Daliris, the dancer who helps Pilar with the class administration details, and she gave me the correct time and place of Pilar’s daytime classes. Pilar “La Faraona” is giving a Cursillo with her sister La Farruca and Farruquito (her nephew). I text messaged the information to Marta. Today was the third day of the workshop. Marta and I walked together to the first class and stayed for both classes. The second class built on the first one and it had fewer people than the first class. I also found out that Marta is only eighteen. And she is a good dancer already. She said she grew up doing Bulerías.
    Now we are even for Pilar’s June classes. We learned a new Bulerías today. The classes, especially the crowded first one, were not very advanced and Marta and I both learned the choreography quickly. Pilar actually did more demonstration in these two classes than she has done in the evening classes. In the second class she had us do the choreography alone a number of times. This was more like the classes I took last year with her. The evening classes won’t be happening for a while.
    Immediately, when I got home Freddie and I videotaped my choreography. We recorded both the Bulerías I learned today and the Bulerías I have been working on all month. I just remembered a turn from the very first class that I forgot to tape. I will do it later. I also practiced counter time to some CDs that Keith gave us.
    Freddie and I feel more at home here. At first we felt the need to socialize a lot and had lots of visitors. Now we are starting to spend more time alone here at home. It felt good to practice again. After a while I plugged my iPhone into its cradle and plugged the nice speakers we brought into the output line, which I just paid attention to. Thanks to the iPhone, I did an hour of cante and dance with Juan in my living room, working on the Alegrías, reviewing a class from California given just before Juan left this last spring.
    The Juan “in person” will come over tomorrow afternoon to give me an in-person class. But it was just fun singing and dancing in our living room. Freddie is practicing guitar more and the sounds are improving. I love it.
    I have been thinking about the difference between visiting and living in a place. We are half way between but I think we may be making the mental transition to “living” here. I thought a lot about it watching Keith and Yvonne. They have definitely moved here and are living here. Freddie and I are somewhere in between.
    Tomorrow we go to a mid-day dinner at Angel’s. Soon he will be leaving for Granada. Tuesday Carl Nagin comes in. He will stay upstairs in a room in Angel’s house. Monday, Jill will drive us to Moron to hear Moi de Moron and Fabiola sing. We called Fabi (Fabiola “Fabi” Herrera) today. We will get together this weekend. Fabi and her husband Javi (Javier Heredia) stayed with us last year when they came to California with Ethan and Cihtli’s Arte y Pureza.
We are still coming out of some kind of hibernation and calling the friends we want to see. We have taken it slowly and not called everyone at once. Now time is moving and we are almost half way through our trip. We will call more of our friends that we haven’t yet contacted. We do have a lot of friends.
    We have heard that they are planning to tear down the building in Triana that Concha Vargas’s studio is in. She will look and hopefully find a studio near Pelicano in September or October. That will be great for me, location wise. But it also means that we won’t have an automatic storage place for our things this year when we leave. Concha’s studio was ideal for our storage. The quantity of things does grow each year. This year we’ve added the printer and I want to keep our new good small speakers here as well. I have also bought glass storage containers and two frying pans, etc. Things add up each year. However, we already have a few other options in mind. Hopefully one good one will pan out.
    Freddie and I went food shopping late this afternoon. Freddie walked with his cane and we went all the way to the MAS and even stopped at a delightful fruit market on the way. We take a long time walking so slowly, but we enjoyed it. There was a coolness in the air and clouds overhead. It felt like rain. We had been out of food ever since we returned from Sanlucar and we were glad to finally make time to get to the open stores. The big market near us, we found out, closes in the afternoon for the summer. I hadn’t counted on that.
    Shortly after we returned from shopping we heard loud noises. It was raining heavily with thunder. We made a tomato, garlic and oil salad and ate jamon Serrano and cheese. Freddie ate bread; I ate rice-cakes. It felt so cozy. We drank “Actimel”, a thin sweetened yogurt type drink, for desert. It has been relaxing this evening, and it is still after one AM. “Early to bed” doesn’t seem to be in my vocabulary.

Thursday July 17, 2008
    I screwed everything up today. I updated my iPhone and it wanted my old SIM card. I don’t even know were I put my old card. Now it won’t work at all. The person who helped me moved out of town. The program I tried to use won’t work. I am sooo disappointed.
    We had a delightful lunch with our landlord Angel today. That part was fun. I have posted a few photos.

End of part X

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