10. Sevilla & the Beach – June 5-21, 2010

10. Sevilla & the Beach – June 5-21, 2010

June 5, 2010
We are in playa el Palmar (the beach). Chris and I arrived in the late afternoon yesterday. Chris is staying on the couch in the bungalow that Freddie and I have rented for three days, until our other bungalow is free. This three-day bungalow is on the other end of Palmar, so we have to walk a bit of a distance to the part we like. It takes Chris and me about 10 minutes walking quickly. Freddie is much slower but he can walk it! Each time he does better.
View from breakfast near the first bungalow.
Freddie at breakfast.

We went to Hector’s “clubhouse” today. We finally met Hector this year. Hector is a 50-year old brown skinned, blue-eyed surfer. He was born in Tijuana and grew up in Southern California from the age of nine on. He used to work in the fashion industry in New York but he has since “escaped”. Palmar is a beautiful, non-touristy surfing village! Hector was on his way to surf in Portugal about ten years ago but he got hooked by Cadiz and never left Spain. Hector is extremely charismatic and warm. Everyone loves him.
Chris and Freddie.

We first heard about Hector last year or the year before. Our friend Josh (the one who lives in Granada and Vejer, not the one who rented the car!) had mentioned him once when we were visiting the beach at Palmar with them. Josh had gone off to visit Hector while we swam at the beach. He was going to take us to meet him, but Hector wasn’t there.

Last year in Palmar a German woman invited us to Hector’s “clubhouse” for her birthday party but we hadn’t gone. When we tried to find it we could not find an entrance. She hadn’t explained to us that is was down a short path behind the restaurant and then up the outdoor stairs to the roof. We learned this later that summer after we met Javi and discovered that he had rented an apartment there, by the stairs. On our last day in Palmar, we finally visited the clubhouse, but Hector still wasn’t there. So we had to wait until this year to meet him.
Hanging lamp on the azotea.

The clubhouse, now called “Lazotea Social Club” is on the azotea (rooftop) of a restaurant. This year “Lazotea Social Club” is run by two beautiful and loving women, Mar and Aspi. They both cook and serve tapas and drinks. They live in the apartment below, where Javi stayed last year. Hector’s house is in back.
Mar and Freddie

Hector bought the building about eight years ago. The restaurant below rents from him. Hector completely redesigned the azotea and made it look like it does now in the photos. He also built the restaurant below. He seems to have a lot of building projects planned. Hector also builds and paints for other people. Painting includes artistic work too, such as painting surfboard designs on a restaurant’s round tables and making a beautiful mermaid by a restaurant’s boat. Hector may no longer work in the fashion industry, but he stays artistic and has a wonderful sense of design.
Chris and Freddie.

June 6, 2010
The main road here is on the edge of the beach. Almost everything happens along this two-lane road, especially at night. Walking back from Hector’s to our bungalow late at night, Freddie and I passed a man playing guitar and singing Flamenco. A crowd was around him, playing palmas (hand clapping rhythms) and singing with him. I love it.
View of ocean from Lazotea (rooftop). This road is the main road in Palmar.

I can’t believe I have hardly written since I have been here. But I have spent two days on the beach and in the cold, still rough salt water. It has been breezy and the currents are strong. But we have gone in the ocean anyway. Freddie has learned to get up by himself when he is sitting in the water. He used to panic and then it was hard to help him. But now as he feels more comfortable and in control, he can use us as balance. He is too heavy for us to lift. (“Us” refers to me and any of our friends who are with us. They all help Freddie.)
Josh and Lakshmi

Today Josh and Lakshmi came down from Sevilla. They had driven to Vejer last night after Lakshmi got off work. They are staying with Deborah, a friend of Lakshmi’s, whom we have heard about for years. We finally got to meet Deborah today, at the beach. Deborah is the mother of Tao Ruspoli, a young man who made a wonderful Flamenco movie, “Flamenco, a Personal Journey”, which included our friends Juan del Gastor, Luis Peña and Raul “el Perla”. Juan was Tao’s Flamenco guitar teacher.
Freddie and Deborah.

Chris went back to Deborah’s with Lakshmi and Josh. He will spend the next two nights there. We are invited up there for dinner tomorrow. Lakshmi has offered to cook.
In the morning, before noon, we move from this three-day bungalow to one that is next door to Javi (and Stephanie). It is near where we stayed last year, in the part of the beach that we like the best. 

Freddie actually ran on the beach today. Towards the end of the day he walked to the water and suddenly I looked up and was watching him jogging to the rocks. Then he turned around and jogged back. By the time I got over my astonishment and grabbed the camera, he was slowing down to a walk! I shot a little video of him afterward, but I missed the real jogging! I was amazed. My mouth was hanging open. I love it when I am surprised like this. 
The rocks where Freddie ran to.

We were a big group on the beach today: Javi, Stephanie, Chris, Lakshmi, Josh, Deborah, Freddie and me. Then Emilia joined us. She is a Bulgarian Canadian American Flamenco singer who has been living in Spain this year. We first met her last year when Juan gave a Cursillo at our house in Sevilla. We have seen her several times in Sevilla this year and then last night we ran into her at a small Flamenco performance here in Palmar. Emilia had come here to escape Sevilla for a while. Flamenco is a small world! She joined us today on the beach, too.
Chris and Freddie. Chris is wearing Lakshmi's sunglasses.

Freddie is so happy here at the beach. Tonight we walked home about 1 AM and were admiring the ocean and the rolling waves along the shore. It is beautiful and calm. Many people come here to get out of Sevilla! I always think of my mother when I am at the beach. She was the ultimate beach lover. She had a saying about going in the ocean when you were ambivalent: “You only regret it if you don’t go in!” She was right. So I listen to her motto and jump into the cold water and love it. 

June 8, 2010 Tuesday afternoon
Sitting in the back of the car, on the way back to Sevilla, wind in my face, I am tan from the beach. Lakshmi is driving. Chris, Stephanie and I are in back. Josh is in front. He rented the car in Sevilla and he and Lakshmi drove to Vejer late Saturday night. Sunday they joined us on the beach in Palmar. 

Freddie and I moved to our new bungalow Monday morning. It is right next to Javi’s and next to the Kotadalu restaurant. It is lovely and we like it. 

Because we can only stay there until the 30th of June, I had to find another place for the first part of July, when I will be joining Freddie on a steady basis. I had put out the word and last night I checked out several leads that Hector had given me. When they didn’t work out Hector walked with me to see if his friend Jose was willing to rent the house he was keeping for himself. Hector told me that if we couldn’t find a place he would escape for a while and let us live in his house! He was only half kidding, he told me later. 

Jose’s house was not available but Hector talked to him about Jose’s aunt’s rentals. There was one available, so Hector and I walked there. Everything was about a minute away from everything else. The house, although more expensive than I had hoped it would be, is beautiful, and we wanted it. It has an open kitchen, a large living room with a fireplace, three nice bedrooms, a bathtub with a shower, and a large yard. It is right across the street from the beach, but it is set back more from the road than the house we rented last year, so there is more privacy. I mentioned that we might share it with another couple and Lila, the landlady, was fine with that. 
View of donkeys from Lazotea (rooftop). Our new house is just beyond what you see.

A few days ago I had walked by our “last year’s house” and I had talked to Juani and her mother (our landladies from last year here) about re-renting that house. They had greeted me very warmly. They gave me a rental price for the specific dates I had requested. They said that they were glad that they already knew us. 

When I called them back the next day they doubled the price. Juani told me that she had forgotten that it was July (although I had requested dates in July specifically) Rentals at the beach are more expensive in July and even more expensive in August, when the summer heat in the cities is usually unbearable. Extra people would have to pay a lot more too, Juani told me. 

Their house is also three-bedroom (one is a converted closet), but small, dirty, and in disrepair, and almost right on the road. Juani and especially her mother, Juana “la Loca” (as we call her), are greedy people. That is the day I started to look for another place. The contrast between them and Lila was huge. I also had Hector as a reference with Lila, which I am sure helped.

This morning Freddie and I went there again, with Hector. We will rent it and hope that some of our friends can rent it with us. We put some money down on the house. I accomplished what I had set out to do this weekend. I have found us places for our entire stay at the beach and I was able to help Freddie move into the bungalow where he will stay until the end of June. I will be visiting on weekends. 
Freddie and Hector

Freddie shared some insights at the Lazotea Social Club and at the beach – He now sees the stroke as a gift. He said this to Emilia, the Bulgarian Canadian American woman. Freddie was able to verbally express his feelings. He said that the stroke made him turn inward. He had always been outward before. He appreciates this new direction. And he was able to communicate it all to the people he talked to. Freddie says that before, he couldn’t verbally say those things, but his stage of recovery now allows this kind of verbal communication. Olé.

June 9, 2010 Wednesday
Freddie is at the beach alone. Javi was going to be there next door, but Javi’s father died today and he had to go back to Sevilla. Javi had just arrived home today at the beach from visiting his dying father in Sevilla yesterday. I think that may have been what his father needed to be able to let go. I don’t think that Javi had been home more than an hour or two, when he got the call about his father. 

So Freddie doesn’t have anyone he knows next door to him now. He told me that he and Hector had breakfast together this morning. He called me on the new phone I had sent down to him with Javi this morning. While I was still in Palmar, Freddie went in the ocean with his phone in the pocket of his swimming trunks. He remembered the phone when he got out of the water. The phone died, of course.
Freddie and Hector

Luckily we had another old phone at the house (from before I started using my iPhone with the Spanish sim card in it.) Freddie’s sim card stayed intact so he still has his same number and all the addresses that were saved to the card. Some get saved to the phone. In Spain and in other European countries the cell phones have sim cards in them. They are interchangeable in the phones, as long as you stay with the company you brought the card from. 

Freddie had called me on his new phone. Javi was still there. Freddie wanted to know how to use the new modem to get the Internet that I had bought for him. To me it seems easy and I had shown him how to do it before I left. Now I instructed Javi on how to help him and they got the Internet working. You have to set it up and put in a pin each time. That is still hard for Freddie, but he will get it. Freddie is still getting used to computers, aside the handicaps from the effects of the stroke. 

Freddie will spend his 71st birthday (June 10) celebrating his new autonomy. This is an important time for him. Ever since his stroke Freddie has been living with someone taking care of him. This is the first time since his stroke that he has been able to be alone with himself. And this is the first time since Freddie’s stroke that I have been alone without him being in the hospital! The other day at the beach I was in our bungalow unpacking and Freddie was at Kotadalu, the hip restaurant/surf shop almost next door. I suddenly realized that I could do anything I wanted. And I wanted to go down to the beach. So I did. 

I passed Freddie at Kotadalu and told him that I was going to the beach. He said he would join me and went home to change. After a while he came walking down, his beach chair and a towel on one arm, beach mats and our sun umbrella on the other. The heat of the sun on the beach made the umbrella look great. 

I am so glad that we keep these things stored in Spain. They would be too expensive as well as time consuming to buy each year. Freddie uses the beach chair every year. 
I remember one night last year at the beach when we couldn’t find Freddie for a while. He had brought his chair down to the beach and was sitting in front of the waves in the moonlight. It was great. He loves it here. 
View of ocean from Lazotea (rooftop).

I think that Freddie feels more “normal” here than he does in the city. Some people worry about Freddie being alone. But Freddie is well enough to be in charge of himself. I had Stephanie prepackage all of Freddie’s pills and he has them arranged in the beach house. As long as he remembers to take them, he will be fine. And he knows that. He understands that missing some pills could make him more vulnerable to a stroke. Letting go is scary but right. I have to let Freddie live his own life. He can say yes or no. And I support that. 

There is a loving un-intertwining that is going on now. It is an interesting concept. But Freddie and I both are happy about this new stage in his recovery and so in our relationship as well. I will be coming down every weekend and will stay there in July until it is time to leave. It is a wonderful way to relax.

I just found out that our good friend Ethan has been invited and hired to play guitar at the Caracolá of Lebrija (a pueblo near Sevilla), Lebrija’s most important Flamenco event. Now I wish we would stay another eleven days to see it. Wikipedia says, “Lebrija is a renowned flamenco centre and the Caracolá, one of the major flamenco festivals in Spain is held there every year in July. ...”

June 12, 2010 Saturday
I am back at the beach. Friday after my class, Hector called me and told me that he was in Sevilla and that there were two cars going back to Palmar that evening. I got a ride back with Hector and a lovely German couple, Gila and Klaus, who live permanently in Palmar. They had all been at the Mac repair store in Sevilla. Gila and Klaus are both writers. The screen on one of their computers had died and they had to get a new computer. They got the new MacBook Pro, which is beautiful. It is light and small and much more portable than mine. I am jealous.

Last Tuesday, we arrived in Sevilla just in time for Alicia’s three-hour cante class. It was wonderful. Shortly after I got home, I had another cante class for over an hour with Juan. That too was wonderful, but when I woke up the next day, my voice was hoarse! 

Thursday at class Alicia said that it was because I had not sung from my diaphragm but had used my throat instead. I had been trying to consciously sing in the manner that Alicia had taught me. But Stephanie, who was in the house getting ready to go to Jerez to see Chiqui, (who is now out of the hospital), shared her insights with me. She said at first that I was singing correctly, but as Juan pushed me that she could hear my voice technique regressing as I tried harder. So I guess that Alicia was right. 

I had blamed it on the weather! Sevilla has been cold and rainy since I came back! Freddie told me that Palmar was warm but cold at night. 

Thursday Cihtli was in Sevilla and spent the night with me. She took me out to Bar Eslava, a wonderful little bar/restaurant that Freddie and I first went to in 1999. Then Cihtli and I stayed up and talked until 3:00 AM, although we were both exhausted. Ethan was out partying with another friend. Cihtli and I always have a great time together.

Now here in Palmar, the weather has just turned overcast. But we are still happy. I return to Sevilla on Sunday night.

June 13, 2010 Sunday
Josh and Regina came down from Granada and brought Freddie a delicious birthday dessert on Thursday. They all celebrated at the Lazotea. Today they visited again. They are staying at their house in Vejer. They rent it out in the summer so that limits their visiting time. We partied and froze on the Lazotea but we all had a wonderful time. 
Josh and Regina
2 couples

June 21, 2010 Summer Solstice
I have been lucky to get rides back and forth between Sevilla and Palmar. Hector has been an angel helping me with the connections. He knows everyone. And, as I said before, everyone loves him.

Freddie is in his element here, but we miss each other. On the other hand, the independence is good for us both. When I came last Friday and also the Friday before, the house was clean and nice. Freddie had hung his white mosquito netting above the bed like a romantic tent. No more mosquito bites. Freddie is very organized here. Many people don’t even realize that Freddie is recovering from a major stroke. And he is still making steady progress. What a wonderful way to celebrate this year’s summer solstice.
View of ocean from Lazotea (rooftop).
Josh and Freddie at Clubhouse.


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