Mi semana en la gamba… 

It has been another productivo week! With the help of MaryCarmen, I was able to scratch several things off of my list.

I joined my new gym and it is just as nice as my gym in Boca, and only 1/8th of the price per month (and the men in this gym aré especially good looking). I learned how to take the autobús both to and from school. After signing up, I am now the owner of a Sevilla City bike. I found several new markets to do my grocery shopping. Oh and I bought 25 beautiful higos for €1.70!! This would have easily cost me $50.00 back in the Estados Unidos. We changed the language in my phone to español.  Poco a poco I am getting organized over here. And, I think the time has come to tell you about my elbow. 

Do you recall my first day of escuela when I fell on my way there? Well I really did a number on my elbow. Two days after I fell, I noticed that it was very swollen and looked deformed! Due to my limited ability to communicate and the fact that I did not want to inconvenience anyone, I was completely avoiding going to the doctor. Than Raquel put her foot down and made the appointment for me. And than when the day came, she escorted me there herself. The doctor told us that I have bursitis. This occurs as a result of trauma to the bursa causing it to fill with fluid. It is a common sports related injury. The doctor aspirated the bursa with a needle and then injected cortisone. I must admit that I did experience some culture shock going to this private hospital. I want to spare you the details, but I think you can imagine. And than when it came time to pay, it’s cash only-no tarjeta (credit card)! 

We left and hoped for the best and I’m pretty sure that we both thought that this whole ‘bursa’ situation was over with.

Well, not even 24 hours later, my elbow was swollen even worse than before!! Raquel made me another appointment with the same doctor and this time I went solamente. Basically, the same procedure was performed only this time 3 nuns stood in the room with me! All three of them dressed in their nun uniforms with their veils, all having a conversation with the nurse and Doctor. All five of these people talking so fast that I have no idea what was going on!!

In an effort to make this long story shorter, I have now been to the hospital three times and my arm is wrapped and in a sling. Gloria has now took a stand and is literally waiting on me hand and foot. For those of you that have not met Gloria, she is a force to be reckoned with and I walk very carefully around her.

When it comes time to eat, she serves me my food and than stands over me carefully cutting everything into bite size pieces on my plate. She simply refuses to allow me to do anything with my right hand. I was complaining that the original sling was muy calor so Edgar brought over a new one and Gloria came upstairs to my room and helped me put it on. 

I remember when I was 12 years old and I fell off my bike with Melissa Striuli. I flew over the handle bars and landed on my head. I knocked myself out and Melissa grabbed my legs and dragged me out of the street. A nurse was watching the whole ordeal and brought me back home and told my mother what happened. My mother handed me a bag of frozen peas and told me to “get outside”. I think I will stay here for awhile!

Tomorrow morning MaryCarmen and I leave for Granada. Bla bla car will be here to pick us up at 6:00am. For those of you that do not know what bla bla car is, it works sort of similar to Uber, but with several passengers. It basically connects drivers with passengers willing to travel together to share the cost of the journey. My fare for tomorrow’s journey is €14.00. You just can’t beat it with a stick!! It would cost me more than that to take a taxi to the train station! It is a 3 hour drive by car to Granada. We will arrive at 9:00am. And we return Sunday night.

Granada is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is the home of The Alhambra, one of the world greatest wonders. The Alhambra is a ‘Palace City’ and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. Granada is considered to be one of the three pearls of Andalucia and I am simply thrilled to see this beautiful city. Tonight we are going to plan our weekend, after I cook and we eat my gambas!

Edgar and the Virgins

This weekend started off beautifully and ended beautifully. Pablo was off to Belgium to visit his girlfriend for the weekend. Being the gentleman that he is, he had asked me to teach him to prepare a recipe that he could cook for her upon his arrival. I could go on and on with funny anecdotes about this and how it went down, but unfortunitely I lack the time and space. To sum it up, Pablo was a natural in the kitchen and our experiment went very well! I had went to the market and gathered the ingredients to make a pesto. When I arrived back home, everyone in the house was awaiting my arrival. Alejandro started grating cheese, Monica slicing and sauting baby Bella’s, Marta assisting Alejandro with his cheese…All while Pablo jumped from one action to another, ensuring that he would be well prepared. We had a blast and than all sat down to have dinner together.

Meanwhile, Edgar has had some sort of a side project going on on the back terrace. It looks like he is building a tool shed of sorts. Edgar is Gloria’s cousin and a super nice man that has showed me nothing but kindness since the day I arrived. Edgar speaks little English and well, my Spanish is definitely under construction. Gloria had officially retired from her job on Friday and so we all gathered for an afternoon torta and cafe to celebrate. Somehow Edgar and I started talking about the procesions and he proceeds to tell me that one was taking place tomorrow (Saturday) at the Catherdal. As soon as I heard this, I immediately canceled my plans to go to Córdoba. That settled it-I was staying in Seville again this weekend, and with joy!! 

As it turns out Sevilla is the most Catholic  city in Spain and Edgar proceeds to tell me that there are over 345 Virgins!! If I could explain to you what this means-I would, but I haven’t a clue. And, I have been trying to get to the bottom of the entire subject of ‘procesions’ since last Saturday. I can however tell you that Maria Santisima, the Virgin of Hope of Macarena, is a 17th century wooden image of the blessed Virgin Mary and is regarded with high respect here in Sevilla. And, I think, she is the sole purpose of the procesion that is going to take place. Apparently, she must be moved from the Cathedral to a church in Marcarena. Edgar explains to me that she is scheduled to leave the church at 6:00 and that I must arrive a bit early to get my spot. I am very grateful for this information. (And, Alejandro, I now know where Macarena is). Edger patiently answers all of my questions and I learn that the “float” that the Virgin rests upon is called a ‘Paso’ and that it takes sometimes over a hundred men to carry it. These men spend years on a wait list for this honor. These man are called ‘Costalero’s. 

The Costalero’s wrap turban’s around their heads and balance the wooden rods on the back of their lower necks. After 24 hours of this, they obviously develop welts from the friction. And, just how the Costalero’s carry the paso is completely different depending on the region in Andulucia. This stance is exclusive to Sevilla.

Fast forward to the big day. I go to meet Alfonso for lunch to practice my Espanol and enjoy some tapas and than we head over to the Cathedral. We arrived just in time to see the paso “jump” as the men lower it and this is a breath taking experience in and of itself. The music is loud and beautiful and best of all, I am so close to her that I can almost touch it. This would never happen during Holy Week. Now Alfonso, being born and raised in Sevilla, knows everyone and we stop to say hello to his lovely friend Ester. Ester is a Sevilliana and is very funny and is apparently disgusted with this tradition and procesion nonsense. She has me laughing in stitches as she tells me that “the north of Spain makes fun of them and refuses to take the south serious”. She than blurts out “well at least we are evolving and we are no longer throwing goats from the tower”!! WHAT?! Did Ester just say they throw goats from the tower?

Not anymore! Yes, this tradition was banned in 2002. Prior to abolishment of this act, a group of men would throw a live goat from the top of the church on the 4th Sunday of January. These Sevilliano’s….

I have been here now for exactly four weeks and have yet to visit the famous ‘Las Setas de la Encarnacion’, the ‘Incarnacions Mushrooms’. This is a large wooden structure in the old quarter of Sevilla that was completed in 2011. The architecture doesn’t match the rest of its surrounding areas, as you can imagine. However, these mushrooms sure do attract a lot of attention! Oh and in the midst of the construction, Roman ruins were found and the construction than froze for 14 years while they investigated! Jeez-I thought it took Florida along time to complete a project! 

The beautiful view from the top of the ‘Setas’ as the sun set.

And now back to more procesions!! They continue throughout the entire night walking the streets of Sevilla. Simply amazing.

We topped off the night with some more tapas and called it quits around 2:00. The streets were still packed and this considered to be an early night.

And, in all the commotion this weekend MaryCarmen had arrived. MaryCarmen is drop dead gorgeous and joins us from Mexico to work on her thesis. She is writing her thesis on ‘Legumbres’. I mean, did I hit the jackpot or what? And, did I tell you that Monica traveled from China with her rice machine stashed in her luggage? These are my kind of people!!

Era anoche la fiesta de la Virgin Esparanza de Triana!!!

It was a wonderful weekend spent hanging around Sevilla. Last week Raquel had invited me to join her and a group of friends for dinner on Saturday night at an Argentinian steakhouse. I was honored and super excited!

Oh let me back track to Friday night….

I had decided to stay in and was soundly sleeping by 11:00. (Here in Spain dinner is served at 9:00. Even the older people eat anywhere between 9:00-11:00 at night). Than, all of a sudden, I hear very loud music (the type of music you hear at church), but with drums, and other loud musical instruments. Was I dreaming? The music continued to get louder so I jumped out of bed to see what was happening. All this noise was coming from the street below me! It was a procession for the Virgin Esparanza de Triana. Trianna is a part of town located in Sevilla, and is it where I live. Now here it was, 12:30 at night and a full blown parade was marching down the street! Amazing! These Sevilliano’s are AMAZING!! My mother gets angry if her house phone rings (well, all the time), but especially after 7:00pm. “Who could possibly be calling at this hour?! This had better be an emergency!”. And now here I am living in a city where there is a parade at 1:00 in the morning! I LOVE IT!!

When Raquel and Manuel came to pick me up for dinner on Saturday night, I started to tell them this story. Raquel and I, of course, were instantly in tears laughing. They then proceeded to tell me that the Sevilliano’s are so religious and nothing stops them when they need to move a statue! Apparently, the moving of this Virgin statue was the sole purpose of the midnight parade. It had to be moved from one Church to reside in a different church of the opposite side of town.

And, just as I started to fall back asleep my grillo’s (cricket) came out and started chirping! I am convinced that these Sevilliano’s crickets are of the most religious bread and were just as excited about the parade as I had been. Because, they continued to chirp the night away!! 

Flamenco Anyone?

During the Baroque period, the gypsies arrived to the Iberian continent and the growing popularity of the gypsy music and dance, Flamenco, eagerly formed part of the history of the Spanish dance.

Well, and than the rest is Spanish history!! Flamenco has since become an international sensation and is one of the most characteristic elements of Spanish culture, ESPECIALLY  here in Andalucia.

Which is why I just had to see it as soon as possible! The really good venues fill up rather quickly all over Sevilla, however I went well in advance to get tickets to a show at the ‘Museo del baile Flamenco’. Raquel’s recommendation of course. I  rarely do anything without consulting her first. She really goes above and beyond and effortlessly with pleasure to guide me. I got very, very lucky. 

And, well on the night of the show watching these vivid Flamenco dancers aggressively building off one another in what became a competition of passion, sexual tension, and emotion was SIMPLY AMAZING! I can’t wait to go back!

 Hotel Gloria

When I went downstairs for my coffee this morning, I find a random Chinese girl sitting at the kitchen table. I’m thinking “Oh great. Another girl that I won’t be able to communicate with”. Boy was I wrong! She introduces herself as ‘Monica’. She will be staying with us for a month and speaks English. AND, is here to study Espanol. I need to mention at this point that Gloria’s home is like a hotel! I never know who’s checking in and who’s checking out! I quickly befriend her, thinking the whole time that this is too good to be true! Not only do I have a study partner but a smart, nice one at that! 

I take her to get her SIM card and her new Spain number. And than we continue running through Sevilla stopping in pharmacies, looking for beauty products, clothing stores, etc. Around noon time my friend Eric from Estados Unidos calls. He is my friend from Florida here to do a bike tour through Andalusia. Monica and I skipped across town to get Eric and the 3 of us went for tapas. After lunch, I thought we should start our sightseeing tour at the Real Alcazar.

Monica and I headed home for a siesta, stopping on our way to purchase a hair dryer (I’ve been living here for 2 weeks without one).

I went back out to meet Eric at Plaza de Espana and than we walked around and ended up a great little tapas restaurant and I had the best dinner that I have had in 2 weeks! 

The beautiful Andalusian gastronomy…….  

The Jewish Quarter

Well it seems at the moment that yesterday will not end. Despite the fact that I had a beautiful night sleep. 

Maurice was kind enough to reschedule our meeting telling me yesterday that he had to come to ESIC (mi escuela) today and asked if we could meet at 11:30. I was thrilled! 

I understood to come to ESIC. I was running late because just as I was about to leave my house to walk to ESIC, Gloria decides to give me a lesson on how to use the washing machine. I can’t speak enough Espanol to explain to her that I do not have time to learn this at this moment so I stand there with ants in my pants from my nerves telling me that I am going to be late for Maurice! I eventually make it out the door and 10 minutes into my walk I manage to flag down a taxi. I hop in and am on my way to ESIC! I arrive at ESIC just in time. Maurice had texted that he was wearing a blue pullover. I look all over and my heart sinks into my stomach and I break out into a cold sweat! AGAIN, I am at the wrong location! Maurice is waiting for me at the ‘Cafe Indies’ next to my house!! I am now in a full blown panic! But within minutes, Maurice arrives on his motorbike. We sit and talk and Maurice is incredibly kind. I explained to Maurice my situation with my work Visa and he called a friend that he believes can be of help to me. I am extremely grateful for all of his kindness and help.

After we finish our coffee, I head upstairs at ESIC to have class with Raquel. After school, Raquel and I go for tapas. We always laugh and have great conversation. She’s the best! After lunch we went sightseeing in the Jewish Quarter and roamed through the narrow streers. The Jewish District begins with a wall that during mideval times separates Jews from the rest of the city. The cobblestone streets were made so narrow in an effort to keep the pedestrians cool, even on the hottest of days. This neighborhood holds a wealth of history and is charming and gorgeous.

After saying goodbye to Raquel, I sat down in the old city next to the cathedral and phoned one of my very best friends back in Texas. Megan and I hadn’t spoken in a few weeks so it was wonderful to catch up. I than started my walk home for dinner. Pablo’s sister-in-law Maria has now moved into Gloria’s. She was in the hospital and now came here for Gloria to take care of her. It’s a good thing that there are a lot of beds in this house! I am just happy my little Italian genius’s are here for another week!

This is the day that I should have stayed in bed…

Well I was supposed to meet Maurice this morning. Maurice is a friend of Raquel. He works at ESIC and is married to a Spanish woman. Maurice is from Kentucky so Raquel thought it would be a good idea for us to meet.

Yesterday, Maurice had asked me if I had a favorite cafe in my neighborhood. Since I roam around aimlessly all of the time, I told this to Maurice. Fast forward to today…Maurice texted me at 11:15 saying “How about cafe Indies?”. I responded “Sure!”. I was THRILLED that Maurice actually picked a place that I knew how to get to! (I walk by this place when I roam home from school). I arrived at ‘Cafe Indies’ 35 minutes later only to find that Maurice was not there. He was at a different ‘Cafe Indies’ and this one was right next to where I lived! Needless to say, we never ended up connecting today.

The wrong Cafe Indies

So I decided that, despite the fact that I was very bummed out about not meeting my fellow American friend, that “I could start my day over at anytime”. This is one of many of my friend Laura’s favorite quotes. So I continued trucking forward.

Since Dr. Wallace is arriving in Sevilla on Friday, I set out towards the ‘Museo de Flamenco’ to score us tickets to a show for Saturday night. Now the real adventure begins…

As I head towards the museum, also in search of food, I decide to enter a cafe. I sit down at the bar and as the waitress approaches me, I mentally prepare for the conversation. Did I mention that I have been living off of ice cream and ham and cheese for 2 weeks now because it is the only things that I know how to order? This very nice waitress promptly leaves and returns with the worst looking ham and cheese sandwich that I have ever seen! Now I have been sucking it up lately and eating food that I do not like, but not now-not today! There was no way that I was going to accept this sorry excuse of a sandwich. I tried to ask her to switch the sandwich bread to a baquette and for it to be heated. Well I gave up, put 5 euro on the counter and left. My search for food continues…

I get the Flamenco tickets and start heading towards school. Yesterday I had asked my teacher if we could start class 30 minutes early and now here I am running late! I had spent the past 2 and a half hours walking around accomplishing nothing and not even knowing where I was at any given point! I was exhausted and my day hadn’t even started yet! I had blisters on my feet and I was still starving! I hd been rejected again by several restaurants, all because of timing and the slight communication barrier! Nothing was going in my favor it seemed. I had even contemplated calling Raquel and asking for the day off. But I quickly thought better of that because I just knew that when I saw her that we would quickly be laughing about all of this! I also promised myself that I would not dare tell her that I was having a “bad day”. This does not constitute a bad day.

After getting further lost through the streets of Seville, I finally spotted a bus station. I immediately ran towards it to flag down a cab. I was relieved! Than while I relaxed and took a moment to breathe, the cab driver drove past my school! As I sit in the back screaming “aqui aqui” he speeds up the taxi and pulls the car over in the middle of traffic and signals for me to “get out”! I was about 8 blocks past my school and already late. This was the way the day was…

I scurried along to school. Than, opposite of what I had anticipated, as soon as I laid eyes on Raquel, I found myself fighting back the tears-for about a second and than I had a full blown meltdown! Crying, hyperventilating, nose running-and poor Raquel! Standing there with her music box in hand, all of her teaching materials, as she tries to make sense of my blabbering! Of course, a mind reader couldn’t of understood what I was saying! But, Raquel managed to make very good sense of what was happening and took me to go get a tea. She could not have been more kind as she sat and said everything that I needed to hear in an effort to make light of the situation. She even said that it was good that I cried. And, tomorrow is a new day….

It’s raining “poof pastry” and helado!

I walked to school in the pouring rain today. It wasn’t that bad! I actually sort of enjoyed it. I made my usual stop at the panaderia. I have an ongoing joke with the owner of this lovely bakery. I have been stopping in here everyday since my 1st day of class. She makes these delicious little pastries and in an effort to describe them to me in ingles she translated them as “poof pastry”. Well naturally we both giggle out loud everyday about this when I order one. Today she gave me my bottle water on the house.

I am learning all about food at school right now and I had 3 hours of homework today. Thank God my little Italian genius’s were here to help me. I’ve recently come to realize that it is much harder than I originally thought to learn a new language. Looks like I’m going to be here awhile!

After school, I walked to the old part of Sevilla and stopped at my favorite Heladeria again-this makes 4 days in a row! Today my new friend, the owner Jacques, gave me several samples to try of his latest creations. I ordered a scoop of the pine nut cream and a scoop of the torte de limon. Soooo good!!

Bus tickets, Italian girls, and Plaza de Espana

Friday September 9, 2016

Yes, you guessed correctly-today was another spectacular day!!! I slept in and started my day with a walk to the American Consulate in hopes that they will be able to provide me with some information on the Visa process. Well the very pleasant man working there was entirely too happy to tell me that they were closed for the day. Only in Sevilla would the Consulate be open from 10:00-1:00 Monday-Friday! Coming from someone that has been working 18-20 hour days for the past 15 years-this town is looking BETTER and BETTER! I did however, leave the consulate very disappointed. Oh and hungry! I found a very nice tapas restaurant in the heart of Plaza Nuovo and ordered the Carrillada. Than I set off on foot towards the bus station in an effort to purchase my ticket to ‘Ronda’. 

More about Ronda after the weekend. But to give you an idea as to where I’m headed, I thought I’d post these pic’s.

Puente Nuevo Bridge

Now let’s keep in mind the current conditions I’m dealing with-such as the the fact that it is still 130 degrees! Everything is done in military time, kilometers, Celcius, and all in while speaking Espanol. Oh and I haven’t taken a bus since I was in high school so I’m not even sure if know how to do this back in the Estados Unidos. But I do know that I will figure it out because nothing is going to stop me from spending my birthday weekend in southern Andulusia in this beautiful, breath taking town called ‘Ronda’.

I managed to successfully purchase my bus ticket and am scheduled to leave at 9:00 tomorrow morning. I head over to see David at the peluqueria to have my hair blown out and than home for siesta.

Before dinner I decide to take a walk to Plaza de Espana. The Plaza de Espana is a principal building built on the edge of the Maria Luisa Park. It was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition World Fair. The walls of the Plaza are tiled alcoves each representing a different province of Spain. And, it is unbelievably beautiful. 

I arrive home for another one of Gloria’s delicious home cooked meals to find three beautiful Italian girls sitting at the kitchen table. 

The Real Alcazar

Thursday September 8, 2016 

As my first week of school was coming to an end, Raquel had decided to top it off by giving me a tour of The Alcazar of Seville. And, it was amazing! Did I mention yet that Raquel is the best tour guide ever? Not only has she lived in Sevilla her entire life, and a fountain of information, but she’s also very fun and makes already fantastic activities even more fantastic!

The Alcazar of Seville is a royal palace located right next to the Cathedral. It was originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings and is regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of Mideast architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper levels of the Alcazar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and it is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

Raquel and I in the Gardens of the Alcazar
After my personal tour, we went to lunch and Raquel taught me all about the food and the menu. After lunch we strolled by the Cathedral and stopped at a Heladeria and got helado. As we continued our walk down the street, the masked man under the table jumped at us while chirping his notorious noises! This mask gets me every time and we laughed so hard I nearly dropped my ice cream. We than went back to ESIC to have class. I learned so much already this week about geography, history, gastronomy and culture. This week has been just amazing and I feel truly blessed!
Gloria made Chorizo for dinner and Pablo and I ate and spoke about my upcoming weekend trip to Ronda.