Writings from Sevilla, 2007 Part 4

More photos (of events described here) have been uploaded HERE (or will be soon).   We have also revised some of the other albums, so take a look.

Thursday May 31, 2007
You never know how things are going to turn out. I lay down to take a siesta with Freddie. I was tired and not feeling great. Then Juan buzzed to be let in. He was downstairs at the door with his guitar. He had our class scheduled for today instead of tomorrow. So I changed gears and had a fantastic Bulerías dance and cante class. We reviewed some of my older Bulerías’ as well as some we’ve already been working on recently. It is fun.

I had already danced at Concha’s class for an hour. What’s tiring is to take the bus there, an hour before class starts. And then to take it back home, sweaty and hot. I leave the house at 1:30 and arrive back about 4:45 or 5 o’clock. The class and travel there and back is during lunch hour so I miss lunch, because the restaurants close after the lunch hours until the dinner hours. I just finished the last of Juan’s stew today, so tomorrow I don’t know what I’ll eat. Lakshmi ate before class this time and she brought a sandwich. I ate a health food candy bar.
Concha offered her studio for Freddie’s birthday party.
After Juan left this evening, Luisito showed up. Lakshmi was not here. We all went out for tapas at La Giganta, by the side of the old Moorish and now Catholic Santa Catalina church. It was almost 10 PM and the sky was still a brilliant blue and the buildings of Plaza Los Terceros sun yellow against the sky. Sevilla is so beautiful. We sat there outside, at our rickety table, watching the people. We were in a passageway to the street, between the church and the tobacco shop, the Giganta bar (like a small restaurant), a hostel and then small stores and more bars where the car street begins. The car street is cobblestone and small and leads to Calle Bustos Tavera, which turns into Calle San Luis, a narrow street I’ve already described. I think Sevilla has more bars and more churches than any place I’ve been. The bars all have pictures of saints and the Virgin Mary inside.
Calle Imagen, but probably another name where we are, as all the streets change their names for no reason I can figure out, Calle Imagen is a large street that leads from the other side of the church to downtown. We have to cross it to get to the beginning of Los Terceros, the square just beyond the church. Our house and square are on the other side of this street in a more sterile and slightly touristy part of town. (I only say touristy, because there are two hotels on our plaza. It is nothing like the Barrio Santa Cruz, which seems at times to be mostly tourists). Then when we cross Calle Imagen the world changes to a more funky and old Sevilla. The streets are narrow and everything seems older and more run down. It also has a lot of character.
There is always a steady throng of people moving in both directions past la Giganta. It is more of a passageway than I had realized. You really see it when you sit for a while and watch
In the distance we heard booms, like cannons. Luisito told us that it is the Rocío delegation returning home and celebrating. I remember when we attended Rocío and were much more involved in that, in 1999. It was fun. This trip I am hardly aware of it. I am glad we did it once. On our website in the 1999 Spain photos, there are photos of Rocío.
But the best and most amazing thing that happened tonight is that Freddie walked there and back without his wheelchair or his crutch. He was walking evenly for most of the walk. It is the best I’ve seen him walk in over two years. He is definitely improving. He did get tired on the way home and we sat in our Plaza on a bench and rested for a while.
The first day we were here we walked over to Santa Catalina and Freddie could barely make it. It seemed so far to us. The difference now is amazing and exciting. And I have to remember that because of his fractured pelvis and then the stroke, that Freddie hasn’t used his walking muscles for over two years, so this walking is certainly building up old strength and well as retraining his body.
I am still thinking seriously about what I want from this trip. It might be too much for me to be trying to dance so much right now. I was so enjoying just relaxing. It just seems weird not to be taking dance classes intensively like I always do. My body is craving rest and relaxation and fun. I give myself permission to do this. I am seeing another part of Spain. And I am still taking my baile and cante classes with Juan, here at the house, where it is friends visiting as well as learning. This week of buses and classes has been too exhausting for me. I love Concha and her dance. She has given me the key to her studio so I can practice whenever I want, but it is so far and I still don’t have my old energy.
No, this trip to Spain might have to be the vacation that everyone else always thinks it always is. And when I see my friends here busy with their dance classes and practices, I have to realize that I am at a different place in life. I am not in my 20’s or 30’s or even 40’s or 50’s and I have just been through more than two years of trauma and recovery. Why is it so hard to give myself permission to follow my own needs and to listen to my body and my soul?  I know that I have to learn this now. It is becoming more and more clear. I want to go back to my Juan lessons at lunchtime, cooking and writing down the recipes, relaxing and singing and also dancing.

Saturday June 2, 2007
Juan came this morning and we shopped and cooked and sang and danced. He had me review of lot of my songs. As usual, it was fantastic. Freddie also had a good guitar class today and then a Spanish class with Lakshmi. Now he is at Susana’s, on Calle San Luis, past Plaza San Marcos. Susana took him in the wheelchair. She is an excellent photographer and she wants to photograph him. I am going to rest, if I can stop myself from writing.
Last night we went to see Rubina’s accomplishment. That was a fairly easy wheelchair push. Working with Paco, the owner of a pension in Plaza de Los Cruces in Barrio Santa Cruz, Rubina has established a place for students to perform Flamenco. The pension has a courtyard in the middle, and a stage is set up there. Every Friday young students of Flamenco who are quite accomplished, have the opportunity to perform there and to gain experience. They have also built a beautiful dance studio with a wonderful wood floor in a back room. They have this studio to rent for I think ten Euros/hour. Students can stay in the pension, take classes, and then have a place to practice. It is a wonderful idea and a beautiful place. I remember when Rubina first got this idea. Now it is a reality. Good for her. There was a certain freshness seeing those students dance, sing and play guitar. We enjoyed it.
I have been doing more walking here and I love it. Yesterday before Concha’s class I found out I could print some writings at Ethan and Cihtli’s before they left for Cadiz. I literally almost ran over there, past Plaza San Marcos, turning all the corners of Calle Hiniesta until I reached their apartment. I called Ethan on my “mobi” and he buzzed open the door. He graciously printed my 10 pages that I needed to edit and then I turned around and hurried back home, just in time to leave with Lakshmi at 1:30 for the bus to Triana for Concha’s class. Of course, as I was hurrying home, I ran into Susana and Paco who were having drinks outside in Plaza San Marcos. I told Susana that I had received her message and would call her later. I continued my fast walk home so Lakshmi and I wouldn’t miss the bus to Triana. Lakshmi had given Freddie another Spanish lesson and it is going well. The two of us walked quickly to the bus and just made it. From the bus stop in Triana, we walked to class, danced, and then walked back to the bus, circled around Sevilla to Puerto Osario, my bus stop, and walked home from there. We had stayed and chatted with Concha, so it was almost 5:30 by the time we returned home. The restaurants were already closed so Lakshmi made us a delicious salad and I realized that I had been craving salads.
Outside someone is sneezing and sneezing. Colds have been going around Sevilla with all this changing weather. Freddie and I are fighting colds too, but we’re winning! Maybe that is why we are sleeping so much, but I think it is more about our long-term recovery. Juan says the sneezing is from allergies. Who knows.
This afternoon, after a long nap, I walked to Susana and Paco’s to pick up Freddie. I must have walked quickly, because Susana commented on how soon I had arrived. I guess pushing the wheelchair has given me strength. Amit said that pushing the chair is probably good for my bones because it is weight-bearing exercise. We had coffee at Susana and Paco’s, which helped me to wake up, and then Susana took a few photos of both Freddie and me together. She and Paco are going away for three months to work, so we won’t see them again this trip. They are truly a bohemian artist couple who happen to be Gypsy, Roma. Paco told us that the bar owner who hosted his exhibit, as well as others at the exposition of his paintings, kept commenting on their friends, the “unique” American couple. It seems that since Freddie’s stroke, his already strong charisma has increased and people are more drawn to him more than ever, although they always have been. Susana says she can see the change in me in my eyes, that my experiences these past few years have deepened me.
At the exhibit we met a man in an electric wheel chair, an artist who lives around the corner from Juan and Lucy. He can’t walk at all. He has invited us to visit him, but so far we haven’t made time.

Tonight we went out to dinner with Concha, Rafael, Frasqui (Conchita’s mother whose husband was Concha’s brother who died) and Carlos, a long time family friend of Concha and Rafael’s. They took us to the restaurant in Genes where Rafael works as a waiter. They treated us to a sumptuous feast with more food than we could possible eat. Rafael, especially, still talks about the wonderful time he had when he, Concha and their three children stayed with us for two months in 2002. He remembers that as one of the best times of his life. He also kept commenting on how special Freddie is and Concha periodically added that I was too! But Rafael kept exclaiming about how much he loves Freddie, like his own brother. Yes, Freddie’s natural and already strong charisma seems to have increased since his stroke.
Juan too, is always telling Freddie how much he loves him and how close he feels to him. And Susana wanted to photograph him, to capture his essence in her art. Yes, everyone falls in love with Freddie the way I fell in love with him! Just like all the kids adore him, so do the adults with heart. Freddie’s shining soul and heart are open. He has a purity and a love of life, compassion, generosity and openness that “real” people of all ages are naturally drawn to. It makes me proud and happy to see how people respond to my Freddie!

And I want to spend my time with Freddie too. I want to celebrate still having him living in my life and to enjoy his company. I don’t want to spend my time going to and coming from dance classes right now. I want to spend time relaxing with my love. I need to relax and renew and to take in. I don’t want to memorize choreographies right now and I don’t want to spend more time outside, looking for and renting a dance studio and then practicing. I want to live my life with Freddie here and in the present. When classes come to me, it becomes a part of our lives and we’re here together. I need to stop Concha’s group classes because they take too much time away from my life with Freddie right now. I think I would get more out of two private classes a day for the two weeks that Concha will give me when she comes to Santa Cruz in August, than I would with one or two privates now when I am not practicing and don’t have a place to practice. Concha is coming to Santa Cruz in early August. She will also spend two weeks in San Francisco. I don’t know the dates of the shows, but when I know details I will pass them on. Concha is in the middle of getting her ticket. When it is finalized I’ll find out more details. But if you are in or near Santa Cruz or San Francisco, prepare to take some great group Gypsy Flamenco dance classes in August from a wonderful teacher, Concha.
I realize that I am going through some important changes and growths right now. A part of me is surprised. I am listening to the slow-down call and have a plan. I will stop going to Triana for classes on this trip and give myself the opportunity of doing something different while I am here. I have studied hard enough. Now I am looking for the things with the most enjoyment and fulfillment right now. Or maybe my enjoyment has changed focus since mortality has so recently thrust itself again in our faces.  I want to enjoy myself with Freddie, so when he plays for my cante class we are learning together, like when he used to play for my dance classes. When he is in his classes I love listening and/or writing. I love sharing his achievements and progress. We are on an exciting journey together. These types of trials sometimes split up couples. With us, we are still holding hands, going through life together. We are stronger than ever in our love and our companionship. We both feel so lucky to be together as well as to be enjoying this wonderful city, with these wonderful friends, in this wonderful time.

Sunday June 3, 2007
It is a beautiful day. Lakshmi will come over later to give Freddie another Spanish class. Tonight there is a surprise going away party for Rubina at Bar Extremeño on Calle San Esteban. Rubina is leaving Tuesday for California and will be there until January. She is slowly moving back to the US and she seems very sad about it. Her friends Lali and Shona are organizing the party.
I realized that I have been writing May still, instead of June. I can’t believe it is June already. We have less than one more month left here, and I feel like I have just acclimated myself. Two months is definitely too little time to spend here. I always want three months when I am in Sevilla. I thought the hot weather would be too much for Freddie, but so far, it hasn’t been that hot, and we have air conditioning here. That really makes a difference. And, it is not July or August yet either.  And we are not in the un-insulated top room of the Carboneria with just a fan and some blankets over the windows like we were in the summer of 1999.
Freddie wants to return for six months here. I can’t believe how well he is doing here and how happy we are.

Monday June 4, 2007
Last night Lakshmi and I went to Rubina’s party, which changed bars because the first bar was closed. We were all women and we had a great time laughing and talking.
Lakshmi and I arrived back here after 1 AM. Then I started to show her some of our previous Spain photos that are on our website and it got very late so she ended up sleeping on the couch. This morning she gave Freddie another Spanish class before she had to leave for Concha’s class. Juan and I went grocery shopping and then Juan started cooking the espinacas. I had my class first while Lakshmi finished with Freddie. Now Freddie is having his class. Then we’ll eat. I didn’t have time to eat breakfast so I am starving. But I had a great class with Juan, again, reviewing the Bulerías, Alegrías, and Soleá that I have learned from him. I danced and sang.

My Spanish has improved this month. I can hear my Sevilla accent improving as well as my every day comprehension and ease of speaking. Yes it has taken me a month to acclimate and now we are over ½ way through our stay here.
I went to the Farruco sister’s dance classes tonight. They are the daughters of the great dancer Farruco, and La Farruca is the mother of Farruquito. The class with Pilar, a beautiful woman who weighs hundreds of pounds, focused on arms and Bulerías marking steps, with just a lot of foot warm ups in the beginning. I loved it.  Next I took La Farruca’s class. La Farruca is of normal weight with a harder face and also a great smile. You can see the sadness of her husband’s death written on her face. Her footwork is too much for me. I am too old to dance like that, and I have no interest in it. I am truly past that stage. But I did well and she complemented me. She is teaching a Soleá choreography that seems to be all footwork, the fast strong kind that the Farrucos are famous for. I am happy enough to let the young people do that fancy stuff. I’ll study the body, the head, the arms, and the rhythm. I’ll continue with Pilar’s class, because she focuses on upper body. The sisters are much younger than I had imagined. (Maybe I’m just older than I remembered).
I had inadvertently walked off with Freddie’s keys so he was trapped at home. I arrived back too late for dinner so we nibbled on what we had left in the house. I took a shower and just as I got out, the electricity went out. It is on now and nobody knows why it went out.
They just fixed the elevator today. It had broken over the weekend. And this is a new building! When the elevator is broken, we can’t use it to get the wheelchair downstairs and upstairs, of course. I had a plan of bumping the wheelchair down the two flights of stairs and then storing it by the elevator at the bottom, but luckily we didn’t need to.
Lakshmi started Carmen Ledesma’s class tonight in Triana. Carmen ended up giving her a job for tomorrow night! In Concha’s class Concha had Lakshmi dance the Alegrías by herself (the one that Concha is now teaching). Lakshmi has only had a week of Concha’s class! She is truly “una fenómina”, as the Spaniards say.

Tuesday June 5, 2007
We slept ten hours again. I don’t think I realize how tired I’ve been. I haven’t had this much sleep ever. I obviously need it and so does Freddie. Now we’re up to go to Triana with Paco and Pili to look for a place to have our party this Sunday. I don’t want to waste the day! It is hot outside and I am cooking my breakfast. The summer weather seems to be beginning. I just washed dishes and emptied the garbage. Freddie is mopping our dirty kitchen floor. Last night when I got home I did a whole day’s worth of dishes. I usually don’t let it pile up. Lakshmi will come over after Concha’s class to give Freddie his lesson. Then she has a full “prueba” (audition) at El Patio. Carmen Ledesma told her to skip the job she had for her and do El Patio instead. She will try to do Carmen’s job next week. Lakshmi is so humble. I am glad that it is so easy for everyone to see what a gift she has. How could they not?
It’s weird to think that I’m too old to take a class or to do certain things, but it is true! Whenever I think of La Farruca’s class, I realize again, that I am past all that strenuous footwork. I want the “gracia” of the body and arms and expression that the older people have. I am of the “older people”. And I like it. I am certainly not too old to dance or sing. And I am old enough to know that I “need to do it NOW”.

    We went to Triana with Paco and Pili to see the beautiful bar Siglo Diez y Ocho (18th century.) If they can do it on Sunday, they would charge 30 Euros/person, which is way too much  —much more than we want to spend. We got back in the car to go look at another place and the car wouldn’t start. Paco wore the battery down trying. So we went to a bar and called his insurance (like AAA). We waited and waited and called and waited. Finally they arrived to confirm that the car was broken and to tow it away. Then the bar called a taxi for Freddie and me. Of course it didn’t come. They called again, and were told that the taxi couldn’t get in because of the cut off streets, which are closed from construction all over the place. So we walked to the avenue that we had planned to go to before we decided to make it easy and just call a taxi from the bar. Freddie did not have his wheelchair with him. Of course the taxi we called had already left, but we quickly found another one and went home. We left our house at 11:30 AM and returned home finally at 3 PM. I think we are choosing to have the party at the Carboneria and maybe have it catered by a cheap but good Calle Feria bakery that Diana and Toshi used for their wedding. Delia also suggested a Middle Eastern Restaurant but we didn’t have time to check it out today.
    After a short nap and some leftover espinacas, I left (an hour and a ½ early) to do errands on the way to Pilar’s class. First I walked to the Chinese run children’s clothes store on Calle Regina. Susana had bought some beautiful little girls’ clothes for some relatives and I went looking for my granddaughter Josephine. I found some nice things, and then continued on to Calle Feria and found Ana y Alfonso’s bakery that Diana and Delia had told me about to cater the party. The woman working there said that the owners wouldn’t be in until 11:30 the next morning but that I could try on Calle Relator. So I continued up Calle Feria until I came to Calle Relator. I found the other bakery but of course they told me that the owners only worked at the bakeries in the morning. Makes sense.
    Then I continued on up the street until I came to Calle San Luis. I headed back to Plaza San Marcos and found my way from there to Plaza Pelicano, where I take class. I arrived 20 minutes early, after walking in the heat for and hour and ½. I was exhausted. My ankle hurt a little and my leg too. So I started stretching. La Farruca came out to go to the bathroom and she smiled at me and said hello. So I asked her if I could watch the class. She said yes. As I entered, the student in charge said no, and then I explained that La Farruca had said yes so I got to watch.
    I like her. At one time she had her hair down and she is very beautiful. Her little son, Manuel, was taking the class. He looks like a little Farruquito (his older brother). He is about 9 and small and dances incredibly. He has a beautiful and confident smile.
    Then Pilar’s class started. I was still tired and sweaty and had to get out my sweat towel very soon. We do about 15 or 20 minutes of foot warm-ups, which are good for me, but are very tiring because I am out of shape. Pilar reminded me to pull up during my footwork, which reminded me of Cihtli who is always tell me that too when she teaches. I made it though the footwork and then we started with arms and hands. She came through the class and corrected us, as we needed it. I liked that attention to detail. After a long time of hands and arms, she started to review the short bit of Bulerías marking she had given us yesterday. We did something which I thought was really hard to grasp and she kept complementing me on it. The third time she asked me my name. She told her little nephew Manuel to watch me (I think she is teaching him to teach). We added the next movement and she liked that too. She is very supportive and giving. Somehow, I hadn’t expected that.
    She is also funny. She gives funny nicknames to the students. One Japanese girl whose name she couldn’t pronounce  (Myumi) is now Mayonaisa. Another is Palo de Dientes (toothpick). Lakshmi told me that Pilar pronounced her name as “Chisme” (cheese may), which means “thing-a-ma-jig”.
    Pilar moves beautifully and with strength. I think working with her will help me with strength and sharpness. I am excited. Lakshmi said she leaves Concha’s with a big smile on her face. That’s how I feel with Pilar. We’re both experiencing new (for us) master teachers. And we’re both getting something new for our dances. In addition to Concha’s classes, Lakshmi has started classes with Carmen Ledesma in the evenings, whom she says is also a wonderful teacher.
    What a wealth Spain has to offer us. It is 1:30 AM and Lakshmi is still giving Freddie his Spanish lesson and Freddie is doing very well. He is amazing both of us.
    Freddie also walked to La Giganta again without the wheelchair where we ate delicious tapas. Their food is always interesting and never has too much salt. We eat a lot of fresh fish there with delicious sauces. The influence is Moroccan.
I have noticed a lot of churches here, especially on my walk today, like Santa Catalina where La Giganta is, that have old Moorish arches and designs set into them. When I get our camera back, I want to photograph Santa Catalina.
    So I am ready for bed. Tomorrow I have a Juan class in the day and I have to get to the bakery (they don’t seem to use phones for this kind of stuff!!). It’s good exercise. I e-mailed Paco Lira’s son about using La Carboneria. If I don’t hear from him I will try calling. I forgot that having a party would be work. We just wanted to celebrate with friends. Good night. I feel great.

Wednesday June 6, 2007
    Another good and fun class and meal with Juan. Juan checked out the bakery for me this morning on his way here. The owner, Alfonso, will call me later. Freddie had a Spanish class with Lakshmi this morning and last night. Lakshmi spent the night last night because it was late when she and Freddie finished. She had to leave early to rehearse this morning, and then return to teach Freddie, and then go on to Concha’s class. I have to leave for Pilar’s class in an hour. I took a nap and missed the camera store. They say the flash is broken on the camera but that the rest of it is working now. It will cost about 150 Euros to fix it and it will take two weeks to get the part. I am deciding what to do. Meanwhile I will try to pick up the camera tomorrow and use it without the flash. We have massages tomorrow at noon. Then I have to get to the camera store and eat and rest up for my class at 8 PM. But life is good and I wish we were staying longer.
    We walked (without the wheelchair) back to la Giganta tonight. One of my favorite specials that they have had this week is a mussel pate. It is fabulous. Freddie had some kind of bull (ragut de toro) and I had a beef with dried fruit and honey. Then we shared a chicken breast with a basil sauce. The restaurant was mobbed. It seemed like the whole of Spain was out late on this Wednesday night. We had to wait for an outside table, so we pulled up some empty chairs and watched the continuous and interesting throng of people pass through. This was around 10:30 - 11:30 at night. We got back by midnight. When I checked my computer, I noticed that Elun (my son) and Donna were on-line and so I called them with Skype. It was fun. Josephine was making talking sounds in the background. She is almost one year old. Then I took a shower, hand washed some clothes, and mopped the bathroom floor.
    Now, after writing a little, I am ready for bed. If I get up early enough I will try the camera store in the morning when it is no so hot out. But who knows. We have our air conditioning on now. I will put some oils on my sore muscles and go to bed.

Thursday June 7, 2007
All of Sevilla was out last night because it was another holiday, Corpus Christi, in both Sevilla and Granada. Spain, or at least Sevilla, also has a record for the number of holidays it celebrates. Freddie and I both had wonderful massages today, one after the other. Alicia and her massage partner Perla, also from Argentina, have been working on us together, so we have two masseuses at once. It is heaven. We took a taxi home so we wouldn’t undo the massages by pushing a heavy wheelchair. Alicia the masseuse told us it was a holiday or we might not have realized it. It made it harder to get a taxi, but we got one by calling. It’s a good thing I woke up too late to get to the camera store. It was probably closed.

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