6. Sevilla and Andalucia– April 29-May 5, 2010

6. Sevilla and Andalucia – April 29 - May 5, 2010

April 29, 2010
We are in Sanlucar with Keith and Yvonne. They are American Flamencos who have retired in Spain. They bought a sweet house here a block from the beach in Sanlucar. I have known Keith since the ‘70’s and Freddie has known him even longer. They used to play guitar together. 
Today I’ve been trying to fix their computer so they can have wifi Internet. It always takes longer than it should. The high winds from yesterday have died down and the day is warm but not too hot. Birds chirp the spring outside. Last night Keith cooked the best barbequed ribs I have ever had. He says that is because the pigs here are fed acorns. He also used a barbeque salvaged from an old Greek ship! 
Freddie and Keith have left to do “boy” things. Yvonne and I are still fussing with the computer but we are also taking it easy. Keith has been icing Freddie’s arm and it is starting to feel better. Freddie felt well enough so that he decided not to bring his cane with him!
I slept over nine hours last night in addition to a 2-hour nap I took yesterday afternoon. But I do feel more rested today.

Yvonne and I went down to the beach, but it was gone! The muddy yellow waves matched the water. They spilled over the cement where we were standing looking down at the waves meeting the edge of the cliff. Far off in the distance we could see bluer water, which is where the ocean meets the river. The river breeze cooled the heat of the spring evening. Yes, from rain to heat. But we don’t yet have the summer heat. 

May 1, 2010
I spent all day trying to fix Keith and Yvonne’s computer and it turned out that when I tried to reinstall the system from their startup disks (as directed by Apple technical support) the second disk was defective. That left them without a system and no way to download a new one. Luckily Keith had an unused external hard drive and the correct cables so I was able to retrieve all their data and store it on the external drive. That was before I realized that the installation disk was defective. I had already tried to install the system from the disks several times with different modifications without erasing the hard drive. It failed at least three times. So the only choice left was to do a “clean install”. The next step was to erase the hard drive and start all over, which I did. Then the same error came up again and that is when I realized that this new problem was the disk and Keith and Yvonne would have to get a new disk! They decided that they would take their computer to the Apple store in Sevilla. This diagnosis took at least 24 hours of futile work. 

Later on Freddie and I left and we attended a wonderful festival in a nearby pueblo. We will return to Sevilla either today or tomorrow. Freddie is walking well, but his hip hurts him at times and he has to rest. 
Last night we ate pig again, this time at a restaurant specializing in it. The pigs here too were raised eating only (or primarily, I’m not sure) acorns. It was exquisite. I didn’t used to like pork, except for bacon and good “jamon Serrano”. Now I love it, at least when the pigs are raised on acorns.

Today, May 1st is a holiday in Spain. I had not thought about it. Almost everything is closed today and will be closed Sunday too. However, Stephanie managed to find us coffee and milk this morning so when we come back to Sevilla we will at least have coffee in the morning. Before we left the apartment last week, I froze some of the left over food, marked it with our name, and put it in the freezer of the refrigerator. Hopefully it will still be there when we return. 
Freddie and I have been enjoying feeling lazy and not having specific plans, such as when exactly we will return to Sevilla. But our apartment is officially ours today. 

May 4, 2010
We returned to Sevilla yesterday and started to unpack our Spanish household. Stephanie helped us and then we had lots of visitors: Juan, Chris, Lakshmi and another American guitarist who is temporarily living upstairs: Joaquin Griegos. He is from New Mexico and plays guitar beautifully.
Lakshmi told me that Angelita Vargas had just started a weeklong Bulerías Cursillo (Flamenco dance class) on Monday at noon and she invited me to go with her on Tuesday. I did, and I signed up for the week. Angelita has some very interesting things and I have not studied a lot with her and not for a while. I am ready now. 
In 2007 (I think, or earlier) Rubina and I started to take classes with Angelita at the Endanza dance studio in the Macarena (that studio is now long gone). I hadn’t continued because I didn’t like the way Angelita taught. We were following an advanced American student of hers for the choreography and what I had wanted was Angelita’s style, not someone else’s. 
Angelita has gotten to be a much better teacher and as I have said, I am ready now. She is short and brown, a little wrinkled, with black hair and kindly eyes. She must be in her fifties, but I don’t really know. She went to the US on tour with the incredible Flamenco Puro show many years ago. That was a show of the “greats”, legends, many of whom who are already dead. 
Angelita is considered to be a great artist here, in the old Gypsy style of Flamenco dance. I find it exciting to experience her at last.
A lot of new dance studios have opened up on Calle Castellar, where Angelita teaches. Since I left last year, the area has become a new hub for Flamenco classes of all types, the way Plaza Pelicano was before. Angelita’s class is held in a complex of studios. You walk through a funky old door and into a large open courtyard with glass on top, two stories high, with little studios all around. I haven’t explored it all yet. Lucky for us, it is fairly close to our apartment. 
Sevilla is warm, sunny and breezy. It is still spring here. This evening when the stores re-opened I walked to Flamenco y Mas, a nearby store dedicated to Flamenco supplies, to order some new Flamenco shoes. I like the two sisters who own it and I like what they sell. I bought my shoes there last year too. 
They are not sure they can get the color I want in the brand of shoe I want. While I was there I tried on some new practice skirts that grabbed me. I would be able to do some of Angelita’s skirt work better with these full, long skirts than with the two skirts that I brought with me. I am thinking about buying one of them! Of course there are two that I like a lot and I haven’t been able to make up my mind which one to buy. 
One skirt is a striking turquoise that brings out my eyes and looks good on me. It is made of a light jersey and has a tie top to match. The other skirt is red and black and very light, for summer. It is made of a soft, silky synthetic. The background is black with huge red flowers covering most of it, with accents of silver shiny thread. It also has a top and is a little more “Flamenco” than the plain one. If I buy a new skirt, I might have to rethink the new shoes!
We are still organizing the apartment. Each year is a little different than the one before. We do some different things, or work on something new. We decorate in different ways and find better ways to set up our computer things, and arrange our rooms and storage. I have decided to replace our old, odd shaped, taped cardboard boxes with plastic crates with good covers. Then I could label them all and perhaps it would be easier both to pack up and to unpack. Each year I wonder if we are really going to return. But so far, we keep doing it. Things would be easier to store here if I knew exactly how many boxes of a certain size I needed. Selling or giving away Freddie’s wheel chair should make our footprint a little smaller as well. That is a future task.
However it sure is convenient to unpack and find an unscratched frying pan, paper towels and their pretty holder, our Brita water filter, my Flamenco apron, dishtowels, toilet paper with a small stand, the folding table for my computer, Spanish Epson printer with paper and ink, cordless Panasonic telephone with all our phone numbers stored (much better phone than what we find in the States), extension cords, plug adapters, multi-plug circuit breakers, tape, pens, stickies, beach mats and suntan lotion, video tripod, extra blank CDs, DVDs and video camera tapes, our shopping cart, etc. We do need to eliminate what we don’t use, like the wheel chair. These other stored supplies, however, make doing this each year so much easier for us. 
We are planning to going to the Feria de Jerez tomorrow or Thursday during the day (after dance class). I chatted over the Internet with our friend Kina Mendez from Jerez, who is currently still in California. She highly recommended going to Feria during the day, in costume, on Wednesday or Thursday. 

May 5, 2010
Freddie started dancing tonight. Juan del Gastor gave him a dance class and Freddie discovered that he could dance Bulerías. He still knows all the music and has accompanied both dance and cante (singing) for most of his life. He has been doing Flamenco since he was nine years old. Freddie started off Flamenco dancing, although he quickly turned to playing the guitar instead, due to his shyness. 
As of tonight, Freddie is now making his music with his body instead of with the guitar. It is also great physical therapy and exercise for him –better than a gym. He has already learned some marking steps and a llamada (a call). Within one class with Juan, Freddie is creating his own steps and gestures to go with the music. He has to move his hands, arms and head as well as his feet, while remembering the step patterns that Juan just gave him. And of course Juan often unconsciously changes them. He doesn’t realize that he is doing something different and it all fits the music. So Freddie realized that he could do that too. 
It was an incredible class to watch. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t just seen it. Freddie’s whole body is smiling. It is amazing. 
This trip has started out beautifully. I feel so lucky. Freddie loves Spain this time and now that he has discovered dancing who knows what will happen?
I took my second Angelita Vargas class today and she complemented me. Yesterday after her class I took two private classes from Lakshmi who is also in Angelita’s class and has already studied very intensely with Angelita. She knows the choreography and of course does it beautifully. She worked with me on the styling as well as memorizing the complicated steps that Angelita had taught the day before I started. I actually had my second class at 11:30 PM, after Lakshmi got off work dancing at the Tablao. I needed this to better learn and memorize some of the steps. Today they weren’t perfect, but they were much better than Angelita had thought that they would be. 
In addition to dance, I plan to start studying voice again with Alicia Acuña, who has resumed teaching her group classes. Her classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that will give me time to practice. Stephanie may go with me. That would be wonderful.
Saturday Freddie and I both have classes with Juan. I will work on cante (singing) with Juan too, as well as a little dance. 
Today after Angelita’s class Lakshmi and I walked to Flamenco y Mas. I wanted to buy the dance skirts that I had seen yesterday. I also wanted Lakshmi’s opinion since Freddie didn’t feel like going there. Lakshmi loved both skirts and tops, for different reasons. I did too, so I just bought them both. I will use them a lot in Santa Cruz, I know. And I will have more of a choice in teaching skirts. 
Then I tried on shoes and talked about their prices but didn’t order any. There are several choices, including a new brand. Prices on the Senovilla brand have gone way up this year but they have the color to match my blue and white dress that I have in Santa Cruz. I have to make some choices. And now I have these two new skirts. I need to have shoes that match them too. So I am considering black again. Black goes with almost everything but it doesn’t feel exciting. I also have to choose between suede or leather with the black shoes. The store will get the black ones in the new brand in two weeks. Then I can try them on and get a sense of them. I tried one shoe that was too big today, so I don’t really know if I like them. 
By the time I got home and ate, I decided that I really didn’t care about going to la Feria de Jerez this year. Freddie felt that he could miss it too. We were there in 1999. It was fun. But I didn’t feel like taking an hour plus train ride, walking all afternoon, and then catching the last train back to Sevilla at nine o’clock. 
I feel much more fulfilled by taking dance classes, for example. Lakshmi helped me today again and that excites me. I am grasping Angelita’s steps and they are not too hard. Of course, some of Angelita’s styling is what I want, and Lakshmi’s help is incredible with that too. Angelita is considering extending her class for a month instead of ending after this week. I think it will happen. I would like to take it all month. 
Pilar (La Faraona) may teach in June and if so, I would take her class then. I love her Bulerías’. I am not sure that I can fit in classes from Concha Vargas as well. But I love her too. I have studied intensively with her a lot and now need to mix in other styles.
Freddie got his gift of dancing tonight and he would have missed it now if he had gone to the Feria today or tonight. This way we will be more rested for classes and/or practice tomorrow. 
By the way, lunch today was Stephanie’s incredible avocado cold soup with warm shrimp on top of it. I sautéed the shrimps in Spanish olive oil. We also snacked on the rest of the leftover black beans Stephanie had made. Freddie and Lakshmi, whom we invited to lunch, also ate Top Ramon, which you can find in most of the many Chino (Chinese) stores here in Sevilla. 

So our life begins to take its form in Sevilla.
Us in Spain 4/10
Festival in a small pueblo.
Wall detail in a small pueblo.
Spring celebration in a pueblo.
Spring celebration in a pueblo.
Decorated for festivities.
Decorated for festivities.
A street at night
Selling baskets and brooms.
Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Tile on the entrance of the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Entrance to Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Looking in to the street from the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Entrance to the studio.
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Entrance to the studio.
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Looking out from the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Chris at the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Top of the courtyard at the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Inside the courtyard at the Dance studio in calle Castellar
Photo by Marianna Mejia
Some of Angelita Vargas' dance students in front of the studio.
Unas de las alumnas de Angelita Vargas en fronte del estudio.


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