Sevilla 2008 Part XIII-Writings

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Sevilla 2008   Part XIII

Our Flamenco Journey Continues

Sunday August 10, 2008
     Last night we went for tapas with Melissa and Ryan and then to the Flamenco Tablao Los Gallos, in Barrio Santa Cruz. Melissa is leaving on Wednesday so this was a goodbye event! The show was very good at Los Gallos and we got to sit in the front row, which is still my favorite place to watch the show.
     The weather is cooling slightly but it is still warm. I brought a light jacket in case the air conditioning inside Los Gallos was cold, but it was totally unnecessary and I just carried it the whole night. On the way back Ryan had a craving for ice cream, so we stopped at the Alameda. I ate sorbet instead of ice cream, which felt better, but I didn’t look like I had lost any weight this morning.
Bar Algabeño will be closed until September. Yesterday, their last day open this month, I finally got the espinicas recipe. So many places have signs that they will be closed or are closed until September. We will go visiting in Jerez next week and then to Sanlucar.
     This Wednesday we have been invited to Morón to Paco de Amparo’s (Son de la Frontera) country home to go swimming and have a barbeque. Lakshmi called us last night to tell us. She has been invited too. Ryan may meet us there, because he will be in Morón for a guitar lesson with Paco del Gastor. And Melissa will be gone. We will miss her.
     Melissa has had a cough all week (like we did for our first month) and so she has not had time to partake in some of her planned activities. Today she and Ryan are in Morón again. Melissa will take a dance class with Paqui, Paco del Gastor’s daughter. Lucy says that Paqui is an incredible dancer and highly recommends her.
     Friday night we went out for a walk with Juan and Lucy. We went to the upper end of the Alameda again and this time Freddie walked. We all avoided the ice cream store!

Sunday August 10, 2008
     Phone problems since Wednesday. A friend of Angel’s came over to help but he couldn’t do anything. He told me that the wires I thought were loose were fine. He tried everything I had already tried. I paid him thirty euros for his time, which he didn’t want to take at first. But he did take time from his busy work schedule to help us right away.
     Freddie and I practiced today, but skipped yesterday. My endurance is down.
     Tomorrow Melissa and I plan to go to Torombo’s three hours of dance classes early in the morning.
     Wednesday Melissa is leaving and we are going back to Morón to Paco de Amparo’s.
Thursday we go to visit Josh and Regina in Vejer de la Frontera, a mountain pueblo overlooking the ocean near Cadiz. We have wanted to visit it for a while. Then Saturday Regina will drive us to Jerez and we will visit David, Clara, Nandi and Pablo.
A few days later we will continue on to Keith and Yvonne’s in Sanlucar. Then we’ll go home and rest! Tuesday August 12, 2008
     Last night Melissa cooked a delicious meal of lentils, spinach salad and gazpacho. We started with sheep cheese and non-gluten crackers. Juan and Lucy joined Ryan and Melissa and later Lakshmi came over after work. She is substitute dancing at Los Palacios and they call her a lot.
      This morning Melissa and I went to Torombo’s and took his three hours of classes. I have been trying to get up early enough and yesterday I did and there was no class. But today Torombo was there and class was marvelous. Unfortunately, I’ll have to miss a week when we are away. But I plan to change our whole morning routine when we return so I can go to class. I don’t get back from class until after 1 PM.
      Melissa and Ryan came over after our siesta so Melissa could say goodbye. I put a copy of the recording I made of Torombo’s class on Ryan’s computer so Melissa will have her copy.  It turned out well.
I      just spoke to Lakshmi this evening and she has work in Lebanon and is leaving at eight AM tomorrow so we will postpone the barbeque in Morón with Paco so she can come too.
That means that Wednesday is a free day and we will leave Thursday morning to visit Josh and Regina in Vejer, which is near Cadiz. So I might go to Torombo’s class tomorrow after all.
I called Telefonica, the Spanish phone company, again, and they finally fix the phone!

Sunday August 31, 2008
    So much to write about …
     We took the eleven o’clock train to Cadiz to visit Josh and Regina. They picked us up there and drove us to the beautiful pueblo on top of a hill outside of Cadiz, Vejer de la Frontera. Josh bought an old house there last year. It is situated in the Plaza de España of Vejer, a picturesque and coveted part of town. The Feria de Vejer was going on and there were activities and music every night in the Plaza below our windows. The restaurants were open and constantly busy, their tables filling the streets with lively laughter. Vejer visit August 2008 .
    Josh and Regina live in a small pueblo Guejar (whey har) Sierra, above Granada but come to Vejer to fix up the house and to relax. As I have written, Josh and Regina met through us in 1999 when Josh had come to Spain to start his documentary film about Flamenco. Regina is from Guejar Sierra and Granada. Josh now lives full time in Spain with Regina. The documentary is almost finished and we saw the newest revised version, which is very good.
    On Saturday we were going to go to Jerez and get a ride there with Regina who had to leave to pick up her mother and son in Granada. But we were all having so much fun that they invited us to stay longer and to hang out with Josh. We did.
    Friday we all went to the Vejer beach, which was very crowded but fun. We ate in a nearby restaurant. Then Saturday Josh rented another car for Regina to drive to Granada. Josh, Freddie and I took Regina’s car and went to a beach near Caños de Meca. This beach was a little difficult for Freddie to get to from the road. We had to walk along the road and then through a sandy forest and then over some old broken wooden planks to reach the beach. But we had the wheelchair so we were able to wheel Freddie part of the way, until the chair got stuck in sand and on the broken planks. So he had to mentally and physically push himself to walk there.
    Sunday we tried another nearby beach, which we loved. By then we had remembered to take photos so there are pictures of the view of the beach from the restaurant where we ate lunch. Vejer visit August 2008 .
    Sunday night I still hadn’t been to see the ancient Arab wall next to their house so Josh took me. Freddie did not feel up to going. On top of the wall we could look into Josh’s rooftop (azotea) where Freddie was waiting. He looked so forlorn that Josh decided to go get him. With Josh’s help Freddie was able to make it, so there are also a lot of photos of Freddie on the wall. Vejer visit August 2008 .
    Josh and Regina have very steep stairs in this house and Freddie gained a lot of strength climbing them. I walked behind him going up, and in front of him going down. In case he fell he would at least land on me. But luckily he didn’t fall; he just got stronger.
    Monday we were supposed to go to Jerez to visit David and Clara, but David got a last minute job in Cadiz for that night and we had to postpone our visit. Instead, we reversed plans and went to visit Keith and Yvonne in Sanlucar first. Josh drove us there and got along very well with them. Keith as usual cooked us some incredible food. We forgot to take photos! We spent two nights with them and then they drove us to Jerez to continue our trip. Fortunately I had packed extra medications and vitamins or we couldn’t have been so flexible. We didn’t use the wheelchair at all in Sanlucar.
    We spent another two nights with David, Clara and Nandi and Pablo (Paul Shalmy) who was visiting from Berkeley. David and Clara live in Madrid but have a summerhouse in Jerez. We visited them there last year. Nandi, whom Clara adopted from India shortly after her birth, is now seven. She is a beautiful, smart and delightful child. She is very caring and thoughtful. She is very close to David and loves Pablo and Freddie. It was funny to see this little seven year-old hanging out with the three now old musketeers. She was their sidekick! See more photos: Jerez visit August 20-22, 2008 .
    I always enjoy spending time with Clara. We went shopping together but I ended up not buying anything. I was looking for green sandals.
Freddie and I feel so comfortable with them. It feels like being with family. And I love to see those three men get together. They still have that strong connection that they developed so many years ago, in their late teens. Now they are almost seventy.
How is that possible?
    Freddie did not use his wheelchair in Jerez either. Pablo walked with him and that worked.
    Freddie and I took the train home on Friday. On Sunday we were supposed to leave with Paco and Pili for the beach again. I had confirmed that and made hostel reservations while we were in Vejer. But plans changed, and now Paco and Pili had filled up their car with Pili’s parents and Soleá, who had originally planned to take the bus. They had rented a bungalow on the beach for the five of them.
    So Freddie and I packed our suitcases and put our beach umbrella, mats, and towel and lotion in our old red shopping cart. Freddie decided that he didn’t need his wheelchair so we left it home. We took a taxi to the bus.
    We arrived at the hostel before our room was ready so we left are bags at the reception and took off for the beach. After we were settled on the sand, Josh and Regina called and said they were coming with Regina’s mother Antonia and Regina’s eleven year-old son Rafa. We had met them too in 1999, when Rafa was two years old.
    Freddie and I spent the whole day on the beach. I had left once to bring our luggage to our room and then I returned to the beach. We all left again to have lunch in a nearby restaurant that overlooked the beach. Then we went back to the beach again and swam and sunned.
    That evening we met Paco and Pilar and family for drinks. Monday we went with Paco and Pili to see their bungalow. They had wanted us to rent the one next to them, but it was more expensive and not as nice as our hostel room. It had a kitchen but I didn’t want to cook or grocery shop. Also, you need to car to get there and we didn’t have a car and didn’t want to be dependent. The walk to the beach was also more difficult for Freddie. That resort charged us fifteen euros to visit the beach because we hadn’t rented there. Later though, we had a wonderful lunch cooked by Pili’s mother, Fina.
      Then we went home to rest and later went to “our” beach again. It was an easy walk for Freddie and he never missed his wheelchair!
      After that, we saw them in the evening instead of the day. Josh, Regina and family came to the beach almost every day to spend time with us. We discovered an artisan’s market that sold all sorts of beautiful beach clothes, bags, and also Moroccan crafts. It was located within an old Arab wall called “La Muralla”. The market was filled with stalls and reminded us of the Renaissance faire in ways. It opened at seven PM and stayed open until one-thirty or two in the morning. And it was always filled with people.
      We spent a lot of time at the Moroccan teahouse drinking green tea with mint (Yerba Buena) and eating pastries. They had some made with a corn flour that I could eat and they were delicious. We reclined on pillows and the atmosphere felt very much like being at the old Sweet’s Mill music camp. The Moroccan tea and pastry house in the artisan market also reminds us a little of the Renaissance faire, But we can see Morocco in the distance from here.
We had planned to spend only three days there, but it was so relaxing and we were having so much fun that we extended our stay two times.
    While we were there, the levante (lay vahn tay), the hot wind that blows in from Africa and Morocco, started. We were on the beach lathered with suntan lotion and salt water from the ocean. When the wind started, the sand blew on us and stuck to our skin like a sugarcoated pastry.
    The levante was predicted to last for three days so the second day of the strong wind we went to the pool at the hotel instead of to the beach. It was OK and it was warm but we missed the ocean. I was too hot in the sun and too cold in the shade of the umbrellas. But at least we stayed outside. I also was able to check my email from my iphone from the connection at the hotel.
    The next day Freddie insisted on renting a fixed beach umbrella with two lounge chairs. I thought it was too much money if we were to be driven off the beach by the sand and wind, or to lose our place even if we wanted to go to lunch. But I gave in. And it turned out that you could reserve them all day by leaving something there, so you could go and eat and then come back.
The best thing about them was that they were set a little farther back from the ocean and the wind did not seem as bad as it had been and we didn’t get too coated with sand. We actually went in the ocean that day. In spite of the wind, the waves were not rough and the sea was fairly smooth. We were surprised. Under umbrellas by the sea, the lounge chairs protect us a little from the levante, the hot wind that blows from Africa and Morocco.
      The next day we went to the beach early and left our battered old red shopping cart there with our beach towel and suntan lotion. We secured the same umbrella as the day before. Then we went to eat breakfast. Freddie went back to the beach while I went up to the hotel to take care of some business and to extend our stay.
      The business –our credit card had suddenly stopped being accepted. Luckily we could still withdraw money but I wanted to correct the problem. I couldn’t get through on the phone so then I sent an email. Nothing was resolved that day, so I withdrew more money, just in case!
Then I joined Freddie at the beach and we went in the water at least three times. The wind had lessoned by then and the beach was pleasant and was more filled with people.
Most of the tourists were Spanish. Everyone from Madrid and Sevilla and probably other cities too goes to the beach in August. That is why the cities are deserted and so many businesses are closed then.
    In the evenings the street performers and musicians would stroll through the outdoor restaurants entertaining us and collecting tips. There are more Gypsy accordion players from the Balkan areas than ever before. The immigrants are pouring in from all the countries of the European Union, especially the poor ones and the face of Spain continues to change.
      We also saw dancing acrobats who performed to a guitarist playing Bulerías and Soleares. The first night we saw them they used a tape of new age music. A young woman and man danced acrobatically and played with fire. The second time we saw them there were two young women with the man. They dressed simply in black cotton tee shirts and tights and they moved well, especially to the Flamenco Guitarist who accompanied them this night. We enjoyed watching them.
     I ran into Elena from Sevilla at the bar outside our hostel. She is a Flamenco dancer from Pilar’s class and is a friend of Lakshmi’s. She was with her friend Enrique who lives in Facinas, another mountain pueblo near there, for the summer. We also met their friend, a French woman who was returning to Paris the next day. Enrique stayed around our beach for several more days. It is near Facinas, and we saw him several more times and met his mother. He gave us some beautiful panoramic photographs he had taken of Facinas.
      This beach town is like a romantic movie. Tables fill the streets at mealtimes and cars cannot pass. Enrique got his car trapped because the tables went out for the dinner hour, which starts about eight-thirty or nine in the evening. I imagine that at one time in the past all these restaurants were houses in a sleepy beach pueblo. Now that tourists come people turn their homes into restaurants and set the chairs and tables up in the streets.
      On all the beaches we’ve been to in Spain at least half of the women go topless. The Spanish word for topless is “toh leh”, a Spanishized “topless”! America seems so Puritanical after being here in Spain.
      On the other hand, almost all the men wear bathing trunks and shorts almost to their knees. They are so much more covered up than the women! We think it looks funny.
Friday night at the evening market we met another woman from Pilar’s class and saw an amateur Flamenco show. This dancer had just come from the other Flamenco show we were also looking for. By chance Paco asked her if she knew where it was and then she said they had just come from there and then she recognized me from the class! The flyer for the first show hadn’t had a time on it and that show had just finished when we asked her.
     So we waited inside the old Arab walls for the eleven o’clock Flamenco show to start. It consisted of three young men. The singer had a nice voice and Freddie like the guitarist, but it wasn’t “Flamenco”. And it was short. We were there with Paco, Pili and family.
      During the days, we spent lots of time on the beach and I frequently felt my mother’s presence strongly, especially when I was in the water. On the first day when I almost didn’t go in, Josh reminded me what I had told him on the last trip: my mother’s motto about going into the sea was that you only regret it if you don’t go in. Of course she was right. So I went in and was glad!
I finally felt at home in the water again. (In the hostel shower one night she knocked down the water hose like she knocked down things in Margalit and Shlomo’s bathroom after she died.) That is another story.
      My mother was in love with the beach and the sea and we spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. On this trip, all my early childhood knowledge and comfort with the ocean returned after many years of being lost. And at the same time I felt my mother’s very clear presence, more this time than since she died in 1997.
      Freddie and I went swimming three and four times a day on this trip. Freddie learned to float by himself again and even swam a little.
It was a true vacation for us, and very relaxing. We both got good tans and felt refreshed and happy. Beach Photos
      By the end of the trip Freddie started to walk without his cane. His speed improved too.
On Saturday, the day we left, Josh picked us up and drove us to Vejer for lunch with him and Regina. Then Josh drove us to the train at San Fernando and we took the train into Sevilla. We arrived at the train station in Sevilla two hours later on Saturday evening.

End of part XIII
To see the photos, many people need to use the Safari web browser, which you can download for free. Please don’t give up! The updated Firefox does not work!
Link to Details of the Church in back of El Mercado, Calle Feria, Sevilla

Link to Vejer visit August 2008
Link to Jerez visit August 20-22, 2008,Clara,Nandi,Pablo.html

Link to Beach trip August 2008

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. The

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