Writings from Sevilla, 2007 Part 1

We arrived Wednesday in the rain, exhausted and slightly disappointed with our tiny, miniscule “luxury” apartment, its neighborhood and our lack of familiarity with it. There was no place to store things in the bathroom, no place for my computer set up, no curtains (for privacy) in the kitchen, the washer didn’t work, etc. Since then we’ve shopped for little shelves and a computer table. The red headed, plump young landlady brought two of the four curtains and plugged in the washing machine (which had to be moved by two handymen). She will reimburse us for the storage things we bought. Luis Peña and Lakshmi Basile, dear young friends who recently stayed with us in Santa Cruz, California, joined us soon after we arrived. Our friends Diana and Delia from FlamencArte found us our apartment and picked us up at the airport.

Now today, Monday, the sun is out and Juan del Gastor is giving Freddie a guitar lesson, his first since we’ve been in Spain. Earlier today Juan loaned Freddie Lucy’s (his wife’s) guitar. Immediately Freddie picked it up and started playing. When Juan asked when Freddie wanted a lesson, Freddie said right now, so Juan left to get his guitar. Then Luis showed up and started singing as Freddie played. Now Juan is back. The friend of a friend who is over fixing up our internet turned out to be someone we knew, Silvio, and Luis and Juan knew him too. Flamenco is such a small, wonderful world.
Delia took us to buy a wheel chair on Thursday and we have since wheeled Freddie all over. People take turns.  Lakshmi and Rubina are both experienced wheel chair pushers and get the prize. But Luis and Juan have taken their turns too. I’ve hardly had to do any pushing so far! Freddie bought a nice metal crutch too and we have taken several short walks.
Sevilla is not particularly wheel chair friendly. Many of the sidewalks are too narrow to fit and we have to go in the street, and some curbs are very high. Luckily Freddie can walk and can get out if needed. Last Friday night we wheeled him down to Plaza Pelicano to a free outdoor concert where our friend Javier (Javi, Javelito) Heredia performed. One street was so narrow with such a narrow sidewalk that the long line of cars left no room for the wheelchair. After waiting 5 or 10 minutes, we made Freddie get out of the chair and walk and we folded the chair and took it to the end of the street which opened out into the plaza! Javi stayed at our home when he came to Santa Cruz to do a show with Ethan and Cihtli, Luis Peña, Antonio Moya and Mari Peña shortly after Freddie’s stroke, when Freddie was still in the hospital. We met Javi’s parents Friday night and afterward we all (Juan, Lucy, Luis, Lakshmi, etc.) went to a bar to continue to party. Freddie and I were exhausted, but it was a wonderful way to begin our stay in Spain.
Saturday night Luis and Juan had a job in Cadiz, so Lakshmi and Lucy joined us for tapas. Later, Lucy went home. Then, with Lakshmi pushing the chair, we walked down to Calle Sierpes and back and that helped to show me where we were living in relation to the Sevilla I knew in other years when we lived in the Barrio Santa Cruz district.

Tuesday May 8, 2007
Still waiting for the internet and land phone line. Something went wrong when Telefónica installed it. Now I can’t leave until the repairman calls, which could be any time, hopefully today. We are liking our upscale apartment more and more. The sidewalks here are wide enough for the wheel chair and we are more centrally located than we realized. The sidewalks in the narrow streets of the Calle Feria area, which is where we had wanted to try living, are small or non-existent and wheel chair use would have been much more difficult.
    Also, the shower here is wonderful, the best we’ve ever had in Spain, and the washing machine has a dryer built in and now it works, but it is leaking. The electric stove is nice too, with its flat ceramic surface, but there is no oven.

Wednesday May 9, 2007
    My first cante class here, with Juan: we worked on the Soleá we were working on when he left California. There is one part I find more difficult than the rest, but it is finally improving. Now Freddie is having another guitar lesson. When Juan realized that Freddie still has no feeling in his thumb and index finger, he immediately gave him some picking up exercises, similar to those given in physical therapy! Freddie could pick up round objects, but had difficulty with coins!
Freddie himself now says he will be playing better than ever. It is three PM and Sevilla has gotten hot.
    Again, we think about buying an apartment here. We both love it and Freddie keeps saying he wants to stay here. He likes it here.

Friday May 11, 2007
    Freddie and I both walked (no wheel chair, only the crutch) all the way to San Marcos church and plaza today. It’s not far for me, but for Freddie is was a feat. It’s hard for a wheel chair to go down the narrow cobblestone street, Bustos Tavera, which turns into Calle San Luis right at the plaza. The sidewalks are narrow and deeply chipped and occasionally disappear. The buildings are about three stories, with verandas with wrought iron rails. Some have the traditional flowers, some weeds, and some are bare. It is a poor neighborhood.
The weather has been warm but the evenings are still cool. Throngs of people swarm the streets in the evening and Spain is alive. At the Plaza San Marcos we were lucky enough to find a free outdoor table, and Freddie drank coffee, I mineral water. I also ate some snails which weren’t that great. Just as we got up, we ran in Ricky Diaz, a Flamenco guitarist who lives in California. We had seen him the night before at Luis Agujeta’s DVD party at Bar Manué! Yes, Spain is a small world. Then we walked back home, Freddie leaning more on his crutch than before!  We took a moment to sit in our plaza, Padre Jerónimo de Cordoba, before going inside. But I got cold so we unlocked the big, heavy wooden door, turned on the light and then unlocked the heavy wrought iron gate that leads to the first courtyard. The fountain here make a wonderful sound and we can hear it at night when we are going to sleep. Then we took the elevator up to the second floor (3rd story in America) and walked to the verandah above the second courtyard where our apartment is located. Below us are potted palm trees and pretty tiles.
    Last night (Thursday) our good friend Luis Agujeta (see Spain 1999 writings for more details and photos) performed with Carlos Heredia, Freddie’s old guitar teacher and friend here in Spain. The occasion was the presentation of the DVD “El Turista Soy Yo” made about Luis by Trina Bardusco. A big company just bought it and has re issued it. After the presentation we moved to party at Bar Manué, in a little plaza close to where we now live. We first went there with Luis in 1999. It is a Flamenco bar and has delicious food. Luis now has a 4 and ½ month old baby boy, little Luis. The Mom is Manuela, a beautiful young Swiss and Spanish woman. The “Baby Luis” is adorable and Luis Papa seems very happy. He has gained weight and looks content.
    When we first arrived at the DVD presentation and showing, Freddie sat next to Manuela and Baby Luis in the first row. Baby Luis kept reaching for Freddie, as if he already knew him and loved him. Freddie ended up holding the baby a lot. And the baby kept grabbing for him and smiling at him.

    Freddie and I both love to see the people eating tapas outdoors at the outdoor cafes that are everywhere. We also both love eating tapas in them ourselves. Spain still has its special charm for us. We just love it. And it is both different every time we visit and also the same, in other ways.
It is strange learning Sevilla from another point of reference. I am still a little turned around, but I am starting to get my bearings. It is hard not walking everywhere quickly. When I go by myself I have to learn my way. When I go with friends and Freddie in the wheel chair, I forget to pay attention, and then we are there!
    Wednesday night I went to a show at the Torres Macarena Peña without Freddie. He was tired and so was I, but I heard that the show would be really good so I pushed myself to go. Lakshmi had a prueba (try out) for a club, so she and Luis didn’t make it. I saw Cihtli and Ethan there and Diana and Delia from FlamencArte. It was fun and the dancing and music were good. It was Moron style. Agustin Chico played guitar, his wife Merche (Mercedes) de Moron danced. There were two singers, Natalia Marin and someone named Jose Flores (I think) whose singing moved me to tears. I was glad I went. We finally have our house telephone so I was able to call Freddie and check on him. I woke him up!
    Thursday day Paco Fernandez and his wife Pilar and eight year old daughter Soleá came by and brought us the things we had stored at their home for three and a half years! (See more in our 2003 Spain writings). We had thought it would only be one year before our return! Unpacking was like Christmas! We are going to their house for dinner (in the afternoon) tomorrow and Sunday Juan is coming over to cook for us! Thursday we ate a delicious meal at Luis’ house that his mother Margari cooked for us.
    I’m already losing track of days. Maybe it was Tuesday, or was it Sunday or Monday –Luis was out so Lakshmi invited his mother to join us for tapas. Afterwards we walked (Lakshmi pushed Freddie’s chair) to get ice cream. I got a fruit smoothie with no milk! Luis’ mother had heard so much about us! Luis has stayed at our home three times now. His mother had been dying to meet us. She is lovely. She looks much younger than I had imaged she would, and slender, unlike many Spanish women her age.
    Another night, with Luis and Lakshmi taking turns pushing the chair, we walked to Triana and back, stopping for tapas in Triana. And another day before that, when Luis was somewhere else, Lakshmi had pushed Freddie to Triana. I love all that walking. And of course it helps me to re-learn the city. Lakshmi goes to London on Monday for a week to visit with her parents who are visiting there. We’ll miss her.

Saturday May 12, 2007
It is interesting to see how this trip unfolds, who we end up hanging out with, what we do this time. It all evolves in its own unique way, each time we come. It seems to have its own life, as well as being a part of life. So this trip seems to be unfolding as being very social and maybe not studying as intensively as we both have before. We are in such a different condition now than we were before. The fact of Freddie not being able to walk well or long distances changes our situation dramatically. Also the fact that he can’t play guitar like he used to or talk like he used to changes what we do and how we do it.
It is 11:30 at night and Lakshmi is here. She is giving Freddie an incredible Spanish lesson. Freddie had wanted to study Spanish in Spain. I realized that Lakshmi was a very gifted dance teacher, she needed a job, and I thought that maybe she would be able to teach Spanish to Freddie. She said yes, and just spontaneously started tonight. She is working with objects in the room, on the table, money. It’s great; she has an acute instinct of what to do that is therapeutic for Freddie. She and Freddie are having a ball and it is exciting to see Freddie working with the Spanish language. Everyone here is amazed at how good Freddie looks now. His face is rested and of good color. And his walking is improving. He climbed down some steep stairs today at Paco Fernandez’ house, to the basement that Paco is remodeling. And of course Freddie climbed back up too. I was surprised that he even tried. I turned around and he was down there with me. Paco had gone with him and helped him. Paco and Pilar prepared an incredible paella for us with tapas of olives Paco had made, and whole grilled fresh sardines. The meal was fantastic. Pilar’s parents were there too. Her father is Andres Dominguez, the guitar maker in Triana who made Freddie’s fancy guitar. He is excellent and does incredible inlay designs in his guitars. He just did one for Paco de Lucia. Freddie will visit his workshop again this year and watch him work.  We had a wonderful afternoon with all of them. I remember on our last trip we saw Paco and Pilar almost every day. It seems as if we will be seeing them often again. Yes, I think this is turning into a very social trip for me, we have so many friends here.
Lakshmi is still teaching Freddie. They have been through the alphabet and are now doing useful phrases. It is perfect. This is exactly what Freddie needs and it combines his desire to learn Spanish with his need for Speech therapy. Then friendship is added; Freddie gets to hang out with Lakshmi, which they both enjoy doing anyway.

Sunday May 13, 2007
Today Juan and Lucy came over midday and Juan cooked a wonderful Pisto for us. It had onion, green pepper, eggplant, garlic, leeks, tomatoes and olive oil and brown rice. It was delicious. We also made a salad. Our mutual friend Jill came too. She was an American guitar student who came to Moron a long time ago. She married Pedro Bacan and stayed on in Spain. She now has two grown boys. It was great to see her again. There are photos of her in our 1999 Chronicles of Spain on our website.
Juan continued Lakshmi’s Spanish lesson with Freddie and then they sang together. Freddie’s voice is coming back. He is so happy here. He is practicing his guitar and eating jamon (thin sliced Spanish ham) Serrano right now.
After Juan, Lucy and Jill left, we took a nap. Then Lakshmi and her friend from LA, Helen, came by. Then Pilar called and she and Paco and Soleá came by. They had been to eat at her parents’ house. We watched the DVD that Paco had made with his family and we taught Soleá some Belly Dancing. I had a belly dance costume stored at Paco and Pilar’s and I have it out on the couch to air it out. After 3 and ½ years in their basement, it has a moldy smell but it is airing out well.
Tomorrow Lakshmi goes to London for a week to see her parents who are visiting there. That is where her parents met. They both lived in London at the time.
So we’ve had another wonderful and very full day. Tomorrow we have class again with Juan. I am letting myself get over jet lag slowly and am just relaxing. I am going to try pushing Freddie’s wheel chair myself tomorrow and go downtown on the wider sidewalks.  I need to look for a firewire hub. I bought the perfect one but it was only for PCs and wouldn’t fit in my computer’s slot. So I sold it to Lakshmi whose computer didn’t have a built in firewire. Now she can transfer videos from her camera to her computer like I do!
Today we needed an extra chair because we only have four here, so we used Freddie’s wheel chair. Freddie ended up wheeling me outside and all around the walkway on our floor above the courtyards.  It was funny and he is getting better. His speech seems to be improving too. He is using more complete sentences and remembering more words for things. I would think that learning Spanish is good for his mind. This, as I have said before, will be an interesting experience. And so far it seems to be an extremely positive experience too.


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.

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