Spain Chronicles 1999

Spain Chronicles

Writings & Photos

April 27 - May 2, 1999

May 2, 1999

We arrived in Sevilla last Wednesday (April 28) and took a taxi directly to the Carboneria, a famous old night club owned by Paco Lira, a wonderful Flamenco aficionado who is a great supporter of Flamenco artists. Luis Agujeta (our friend) sings here almost nightly and lives here when in Sevilla (like now). (Freddie has known both Paco and Luis for fifteen years. Luis spent almost a month at our house last fall). And now we are the guests, an interesting change of roles which we are also enjoying. We are near the Murillo Gardens and the Barrio Santa Cruz on Calle Levies, a narrow street about 6 inches wider than a car. The streets here are cobblestone and brick and wind past tall, ancient houses with red and pink geraniums blooming on the balconies, as if for centuries. There are courtyards intricately tiled around fountains and flowers that we can see beyond the wrought irons gates as we pass by. Although many apartments are being remodeled, the buildings feel ancient and the feeling of Sevilla is much the same as Freddie and I remember it from the 80s. There are many outdoor cafes where we eat tapas and drink strong, dark coffee during the day. We also go to the bars for tapas and drinks, standing hours at the high counters, Spanish style, laughing and talking with our friends. Almost everyone here seems to drink non-stop throughout the day and the night. I dont know how they do it, but the fino and the manzanilla (less strong) are great. Freddie has been drinking Tonica and Cokes.


Click on any photo below to see this group as larger pictures.


Carlos Heredia, Freddie's guitar teacher and Luis's guitar player.

Paco Lira and his grandaughter Alba after her Baptism.

Pisco(Pacos son) & wife Tony

Click on any photo below to see this group as larger pictures.

Luis singing at the Carboneria with Carlos, Freddie's guitar teacher.

Luis singing at the Baptism fiesta.

Gypsies singing at the Baptism fiesta. May, Paco's friend who owns the outdoor cafe, is in the center.

Carla and Miguel Ochoa at Evelina's
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Paco Lira fixed up a room here at the Carboneria for us. We can stay until we find an apartment, which he is looking for for us. He has been a gracious host. Our room here is like an attic room, on the third floor of this former blacksmith shop. Our rooms blue and white tile floor and three small spiral steps leading to a roof top porch give it a more open dimension. Another door in our room leads to a tiny balcony and the two windows and white walls make it very light and airy. The two single mattresses on the two single beds are brand new. The room is so newly fixed up (Paco wants Luis to stay here after we find our apartment) that when it rained Wednesday the room was full of leaks, with 4 plastic buckets trying to catch the water. Of course our things got wet, but the bed stayed dry. The next day they fixed the roof again and it hasnt leaked since! We have hung a rope from two white painted iron rings fastened to the wall and now we have a place for our clothes. There is a small wooden shelf and a narrow wooden night stand for more of our things. Five wicker chairs complete the furnishings. In the corner of the room are some huge wooden picture frames and some paintings stacked haphazardly against the wall. We plugged an extension cord in downstairs for the one light in the room, a bare light bulb that Freddie found downstairs. We think they forgot about electricity when they fixed up the room! The purple and white carnations that Paco gave us when we arrived are still looking fresh in the vase on the cement shelf by the head of our bed.

We walk down the steep narrow stairs to the bathroom (no toilet seat, a striped curtain for the door). On this floor Luis has a small room (also with a curtained door), although he and Rubina Valenzuela, our old friend and Luis’ lfriend, have been staying in Luis’ newly acquired furgoneta” (pronounced furmineta; it means a camper). Paco himself has a kind of apartment here too, no doors, but a bedroom and also a sitting room with a round table and a large, old armoire. He is in his early 70s but looks like 60, except for a condition in his legs which Rubina, who works in a medical clinic, thinks looks like gangrene. I have been treating it with oils (which help) but we are trying to convince him to go to a regular doctor for a correct diagnosis. It feels serious. He says it is circulation. It may be, but Paco is on his feet all day and is famous for his fast paced walk (an understatement). We all walked back from the church with him on Saturday (after the baptism of his granddaughter) and could hardly keep up! He certainly gets enough exercise but we are told he is somewhat of a work-aholic and probably doesnt rest or sleep enough. He has nine grown children and is passionately estranged from his ex wife, but not her relatives.

Pacos brother-in-law, the singer Juan Camas, also has a room here, on this second floor, with walls made of cardboard! These two floors are closed off from the rest of the Carboneria by a heavy trap door, lifted and shut by heavy weights to counterbalance it. Going down through this door are steep stairs which lead to one of the two bars at the Carboneria. The Carboneria used to be a blacksmith shop at one time but now as a music club is a known landmark for both tourists and Sevillianos alike. It has a dark, old, huge entrance foyer type room with carved rosewood, the original part of the forge. There are many photographs and paintings of great Flamenco artists on the walls and it feels like a living Flamenco museum. Another room here is part of a garden patio (covered) with another bar and a stage for dancing and singing and of course guitar. This room leads to the outdoor patio which is filled with plants in pots as well as with tables and chairs. We can practice on the stage during the day and take dance classes as well. Concha Vargas, a warm hearted and intense gypsy bailora, teaches here and I have already taken one private class from her, starting to learn a Siguiriya. I will take five more classes before she leaves for Japan for a month.

Freddie will take his first guitar class from Carlos Heredia, Luis special guitar player, on Monday.

The weather here has been cold and rainy, not what we expected. But we are so glad to be here and have been having phenomenal luck here. We are in the flow and it feels like the world here has opened to us almost magically, unfolding more and more in many unexpected ways. The music is wonderful and the people we have met wonderful too. We are already having those unforgettable experiences.

We ran into Carla and Miguel Ochoa (used to be Carla Waldo, from the Renaissance faire). Carla lived at my house on Amesti (Corralitos) for a while in the late 70s and has known Freddie for about thirty years. Carla, still long haired and slender, is a dancer and Miguel, also long haired but not slender, a guitarist. They have been coming to Spain regularly during the eighteen years they have been married. They have given us valuable tips about being in Sevilla already as well as being great people to hang out with. Yesterday we attended the baptism of Pacos granddaughter. Afterwards there was a great fiesta and Luis sang beautifully. At midnight he turned forty nine years old. May 2 is his birthday. Before he sang, we were entertained by a group of young gypsies. One of the young women in that group had also just been baptized that day in preparation for her upcoming marriage. She and her friends danced, sang, and played guitar in celebration. Concha joined them and we videotaped and ate. Then Luis sang while Carlos Heredia played and the music was legendary. How lucky we are to be in the middle of such great Flamenco. Freddie and I are starting to get over jet lag, but have not been to bed before three or four AM. yet.

Outside, the birds are chirping the music for Sunday. All else is quiet. We went out to eat this morning (actually afternoon) between the raindrops at an outdoor cafe owned by a friend of Pacos, May (pronounced “My”). May, probably in her forties, with piercing blue eyes and a beautiful, friendly, round face, sat with us and practiced her English. Paco and his friend Manolo were with us and Pacos son Pisco and his wife, Tony, joined us. Manolo, a small, sprightly man in his late seventies, (we found out later he is only sixty three) speaks slowly and clearly so we can understand him pretty well. He has spent much time in Morocco and spent one late evening around Paco's round table talking about Morocco with Freddie. Manolo knows a lot about history and architecture and is helping to educate us. Freddie says, The Flamenco bug bit big and is spreading fast. I think it bit a long long time ago. Freddie and I love being here together and our pace as well as our likes and dislikes seem to match perfectly.



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