Sevilla 2008 Part XII Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part XII

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Friday August 1, 2008
    Chris left the day after Carl did. We had a good time with him too. On his last night we all went out to the Pizza place (Juan’s suggestion) where Freddie and I enjoy the salads (since I can’t eat gluten!). Ian Banks and his two daughters, Cameron and Kendall joined us. It was their last night too. Juan, Lucy, Freddie and I were also part of the goodbye party .
    Pablo is coming up tomorrow from Jerez, where he has been visiting David and Clara. Juan is preparing a big meal for Pablo’s arrival. Lucy and I have both gained weight. Also Juan and Freddie are gaining. I guess we’re having too much fun!

Sunday August 3, 2008
    Pablo came up from Jerez yesterday and spent the night at our house. He is staying with David, Clara and Nandi in Jerez. Pablo lived in Morón and Sevilla for many years in the seventies and eighties.
    He took care of Anzonini after Anzonini’s stroke in the eighties, until Anzonini died. Now Pablo lives in Berkeley and he hadn’t been back to Spain for twenty years, until now. As I have written before, David, Pablo and Freddie were like the three musketeers when they were young. They are all in their late sixties now, with many wonderful shared adventures in the world of Flamenco.
    David’s daughter Rachel and her husband Philippe are making a documentary on David’s life and they have filmed interviews with Pablo and Freddie and others who were and are important in David’s life. That is part of what Pablo has been doing in Jerez.
    Yesterday Juan cooked us a wonderful lunch here. We had gazpacho and espinicas (spinach with garbanzos) and salad. Then we all took naps. Freddie and I slept for four hours, until Juan called and said that they would be over in half an hour. Freddie and I pulled ourselves out of bed and we all went out to Bar Manué for drinks around ten thirty or eleven o’clock that night.
    Lucy brought three teenage American boys. One of them is the son of Jim Kuhn, the aficionado and friend of theirs who brought them up to Seattle to work for the University of Washington when they were in California. Two of the boys are university students and the third is in his last year of high school. They are polite and fun and interesting. Lucy took them to the Carboneria while Pablo, Juan, Freddie and I went on to another bar in Plaza Alfalfa. Of course, Freddie was driving his electric wheelchair.
    We waited in Plaza Alfalfa for Lucy and the boys to return from the Carboneria. After the bars closed and took in their tables and chairs, we called Lucy who was on her way so we waited in the corner of the square by a new and ugly cement bench. Juan started to do palmas and sing and I started to dance. At one point Juan and I danced Bulerías together. It was fun, of course, waiting like that. Here are a few photos of us in the house and on the walk home!
    Pablo took us to breakfast at Bar Hercules this morning. A little later on Juan came over to give Freddie a lesson and Pablo left for Jerez. He will come back and visit again before he returns to California. We will also go down to Jerez to visit all of them there. This month will be a good time to leave Sevilla because it is getting very hot here.
    Pablo told us that thirty-eight Celsius is one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. He said that summers used to be categorized by how many days above forty degrees (in the shade) that they had. Forty degrees is one hundred four degrees Fahrenheit. I think the paper said it was supposed to be forty-one degrees (one hundred six) today. We have been inside since our mid-day breakfast jaunt. I cooked a nice lunch for Freddie and me and we enjoyed eating at home.
    Juan says not to go out until ten-thirty tonight. He and Freddie watched the futbol (soccer) game on their respective TVs today.
    After my nap Freddie was watching the TV and a bullfighting program came on. I do not believe in bullfights because of the cruelty inflicted on the bull. However, I once saw an excellent video at Luis Agujetas’ house in 1999. That video showed me the influence of the bullfight on Flamenco and the strong connection between the two. I have since seen two mediocre bullfights in Sevilla and I didn’t care if I never saw another.
    The bullfighters on today’s program looked very young. They were novillos. These were apprentice matadors fighting young bulls.
    The camera focused in on the face of one young torero. He was standing near the entrance getting ready to enter the ring. His youthful face looked tentative and scared. In the next clip he was fighting the bull. It looked as if he had gone into a trance and switched personalities. His total facial expression changed. His intensity was focused and he periodically made faces at the bull as they danced together in this “dance of death”.  Yes he actually danced, his chest high, his back beautifully arched, his poses classic. He was confident and very connected to the bull. He looked straight into the bull’s eyes and I felt that there was a strong energetic connection between them as he steered the bull back and forth, his body poised and the bull passed close. It was beautiful and I enjoyed it despite my feelings about bull fighting.
        Later we talked to Paco and Pilar who had also watched the bullfighting program. They are now home from the beach and we will see Paco tomorrow when he comes over to give Freddie a lesson.
This evening I heated up our left over lunch for dinner and it was perfect. Dessert was dates. Later Lakshmi came over and visited. I guess even a day when we don’t think we are doing anything, is full.

Monday August 4, 2008
    Lakshmi will practice here today and Freddie will have a guitar class with Paco. I will buy food and cook.
    We went out to breakfast day, as usual. Last week I found out from the staff of Algabeño which stall was the best to buy chicken from. They showed me where they buy their chicken and introduced me to the stall owner.
    So today I asked where to buy meat. Manué (man whey), the father and owner of Bar Algabeño, took me to stall 25 and introduced me. And a little while later I went there to buy the three filetes de ternera  (thin beef steaks) that Freddie had requested. I cooked the same thing yesterday and he loved it.
    Then I went to the new fruit stand I have recently started to use, to buy the green peppers for my steak dish and fruit for the fruit salad. Ryan and Melissa use this stand. Years ago Ryan had heard about it from Juan and he used to shop there regularly when he lived in Sevilla. Their prices are excellent and so is their produce. And they are very nice, Chari and Antonio, sister and brother.
    On the way there a miracle happened! I passed a stall by the sidewalk and the man there asked if I lived on Calle Molino. I said yes and he said, “number nine”, and I said yes. Then he asked me my husband’s name. I looked up and saw Freddie’s long lost wallet hanging in the corner and I exclaimed about it. He said that a woman had found it a while ago and that he had hung it up in the corner so the person who had lost it could see it. But of course we never saw it.
    Then he had a knee operation and he forgot about it. The stall was closed for over a month. When he returned he noticed it still hanging in the corner and he finally looked inside.
    The Spanish identification note I had given to Freddie was inside it with our Spanish information. Freddie’s drivers’ license with his photo was in it and also his credit card, which I had canceled. And so was the fifty-euro bill that I had given him just before he lost the wallet three months ago! We had considered that wallet history and I had begun to look for a similar wallet for him, which was very difficult to find. The man had recognized Freddie from the driver’s license photo. There definitely are good people in this world!
    I saw Juan at the fruit stand just after the wallet was given to me, and he agreed that this was indeed a miracle. After three months the wallet was returned with everything inside it!
We will have to share the story with the people at Bar Algabeño who helped me look for it and with Lucy as well. Lucy walked all over the Mercado with me looking for and asking about the wallet the day Freddie lost it.
    It is hot today and Juan says we need to stay inside again. Our apartment is so comfortable.
I spend more time cooking and shopping and less time dancing.
    Juan is here now, just escaping the heat. Lucy’s sister is here and we will meet her at ten tonight. We were going to do something with Paco and Pilar but now I’ll have to change that.

Tuesday August 5. 2008
    Last night we went out to La Barqueta with Juan, Lucy, Juan’s French cante student Francisco, Francesca and Toshi. Lucy’s sister had already left for Ronda, so we didn’t get to meet her. La Barqueta is just past the upper end of the Alameda, on the Avenida facing the river. We ate tapas in a small outdoor bar/restaurant and enjoyed the breeze from the river. Freddie took his electric wheelchair because we didn’t know how far we were going, but Lucy and I think he could have walked it.
    The breeze at eleven at night was welcome in this heat wave. Lucy said that at five thirty in the afternoon she saw on one of the temperature towers in the city that it was forty-five degrees! That is 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Someone at the table said that it must have been forty-seven earlier (117 degrees).
    Freddie and Juan and I went out for ice cream again tonight. We’ve been eating way too much. Freddie walked, which was good, and Juan and I split a small ice cream. It was still too much for us. Lucy didn’t go because she didn’t want ice cream either. Freddie is just an ice cream addict.
I have cut out garbanzos from my diet for two days and my stomach is going down. However, the ice cream tonight did not help! But the night had started to cool down and a refreshing breeze was blowing in the Alameda and it did feel good to go out.
In the afternoon Freddie and I practiced together. I sang and danced to the recording of my class with Juan from Monday. I was learning where to put the baile (dance) in my cante (song) so the spaces were already there in the recording and of course the compás (rhythm with accents) and singing were there because Juan was playing guitar.
    Freddie helped me with the styling. He still has his incredible eye and he helped me a lot.

Wednesday August 6, 2008
    Another morning.
     It’s taken me three months to start to figure out what I want for myself from this trip to Spain. Now that we are half way through our time here, I start to think of time left here rather than time we’ve been here. It’s like age and life. Now my life focus is time left to live.
I practiced my singing and dancing yesterday and today with Freddie. We did counter time, I did footwork, and we did Bulerías and Freddie helped me with style. He is playing more and more guitar and it is fun.
    Goals: to learn Bulerías better, to be able to sing in a fiesta, and to get back into the habit of practicing every day.
Paco is giving Freddie a lesson, Pili is watching, and I am videotaping. They have been working on left hand placement. Freddie must get rid of bad habits and learn new positions as he re-learns the guitar. But he can now make clear, clean sounds. I just started to cry with happiness. And we have this on videotape.
    So another thing I want to accomplish is for Freddie to continue his progress re-learning the guitar. It is not something I can do, but I can certainly support and encourage it.
Carlos Heredia, Freddie’s former guitar teacher, picked us up tonight and took us to his house and then to his new guitar-making shop. He still lives in Tres Mil, the ugly Gypsy housing project with the very dangerous reputation. However, Carlos has made the best of it and fixed his house up nicely.
Carlos started making guitars seven months ago and has made five already. He is selling them for 2,000 euros, in case anyone is looking for a good guitar that is not too expensive. These early ones might even become collectors’ items. He is a talented man. We have known him and his family since 1999.
    The children are so grown up now. Macarena, the oldest is married. But she was at the house so we saw them all. Carmen, the youngest daughter, whose baptism we went to not so long ago, is now eight. Fati, whose photo we took in 1999 dancing Bulerías in her diapers, now dances beautifully. She studied with La Farruca for a while and it shows! Sarai at seventeen put on makeup while we were there and looked stunning. Libertad and Macarena have filled out and both are now beautiful women. Pili, Carlos’ wife, was in the “kiosk”, the neighborhood convenience store they have that opens from their house onto the barrio street. The daughters served us coffee in yellow china teacups. See photos .
    After visiting with the family, Carlos drove us to his tiny guitar making shop, in a downstairs room of his sister’s house, also in Tres Mil. Carlos walled off this room from the house and put in a door to the outside. He is very proud of it. See photos .
    His mother, who had a bad stroke a number of years ago, lives upstairs with his sister. Unlike Freddie, she did not get TPA when she had her stroke and she now cannot talk at all, other than saying “Ma, ma ma…”. However she can understand. She can hardly move any of her body parts, so sign is not an option. We went upstairs to visit her and her eyes were bright and alert. From what Carlos had said, we hadn’t expected her to be so conscious and present. She and I have always had a special connection. I wrote about it in my 1999 writings and maybe later too. She was very glad to see us. And I felt that we had completed something with this visit. It felt important and was very moving to us.
    In this heat we do as the Spaniards do, walk in the shade. It is too hot to spend much time in the sun. But in our bajo (ground floor) apartment, the temperature stays cool. We run a fan in the back room and the air conditioner in the sunny living room and we forget how hot it is outside.
This morning I had to go to the post office and I decided to find the “neighborhood” one on Calle San Vicente, which is between fifteen and twenty minutes away walking, in a part of Sevilla I don’t know well. I had bought Josephine a Flamenco apron, which will be very useful as a bib. I have been meaning to mail it but none of the estancos (small tobacco shops that sell stamps, lighters, envelopes, etc.) in this part of town have scales for weighing postage. In barrio Santa Cruz they all seemed to be able to weigh small things. So, I had to go to the post office to send the apron.
    In the beginning of the post office block I looked in a little store window and saw some incredible women’s hats, just the kind I have been searching for. I had to knock on the door to be let in. The two women customers inside were just leaving. The lovely woman who owns the shop began to speak to me in excellent English and I started to try on the romantic, floppy hats. It turns out that they are top fashion designer hats. Not too many people just stumble upon this modest storefront. The hat I liked best was over four hundred euros, and Reyes, the owner, assured me that the same hat sells for over one thousand dollars at Macy’s in New York! The hat was beautiful but I didn’t buy it.
    I plan to bring Freddie and Melissa there. Melissa has been searching for hats too and I know that Freddie would like it. There were some hats for much less. Of course I had been drawn to one of the most expensive items! The store is only open Tuesday through Thursday mornings during the summer. It is also open by appointment.
    I arrived home with a few minutes to spare before my class with Juan. We worked mainly on cante with baile again. And Juan made Freddie play guitar with him for most of the class. It is exciting.
    My practicing paid off and I improved. We have a little singing and dance choreography for “Tu, tan solo tu”, a Bulerías we have been working on for a while. Juan taught it when he was in Santa Cruz this year, but he has added more parts to it and we have punctuated it with dance. Our goal is for me to be able to dance it and sing it in a fiesta, something I have not been able make myself do easily or well. I have no trouble dancing in a fiesta, but singing still fills me with trepidation. As usual, we had a wonderful and inspiring time.
A note on the photos: some people have been having trouble seeing the photos. Try clicking on and then scroll down to the page you want, ie. Carlos Heredia & Family, which is just before Freddie's music.

End of part XII

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