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Hasta Luego, Sevilla



So much better than Whole Foods


It has been a solidly good week, a first being alone in a foreign country, a second dusting off my Spanish. While my go to phrase recently has been "pelligro, no patinar", from a sign on a tree I often saw at Jamaica Pond during COVID's first winter, I added "amarillo" after my sojourn through Texas. Back in the 80s, I spent a booze soaked week in Cozumel, and as well as taking a dive instructor as a lover for a few days, picked up "una cerveza, por favor" and "la cuenta, por favor". So, with the exception of the notice about skating, I've managed to throw it all back into circulation this week, along with throwing out a "si" or "gracias", when I've been able to divine enough to understand the gyst of whatever the person is saying. Things get tricky when they hear my perfectly pronounced reply, look at me with a smile and start to spew unintelligible sounds from their mouths, fast. My only response can be a blank look and an expression I've added to my quivver, "no hable espanol", which, after the luxury of Netherlands where everyone speaks English better than I, has been a much bantered about. Almost ready for the diplomatic corps.


First days In Sevilla were for sussing out and taking photographs while things were new. While I was eager to go to what I'd been told was the best tapas place, when I'd get there, I'd see a sea of old men that had been drinking that same glass of beer for the last 55 years with the same cigarettes and same people. Who was I to come in, on my own, and a woman?, I imagined them thinking. But I really wanted those salty little pink shrimp, so eventually overcame any trepidation and marched slowly with my head high and a smile on my face. Yes, heads turned, and the server was beyond perplexed that I didn't want a beer with my 11 am order, but I let that slide and chalked it all up as a success.


Ubiquitous


Later, I got to thinking about when things like this happen on a grander scale; challenges or wishes that kick around in my head for days, months, years. Whatever is holding me back from achieving them, could be lack of commitment, courage, vision or desire, causes low key longing and discomfort. I realized there's some part of me that has always assumed that the joy of achieving the thing will by nature be equal to the discomfort of not having done so yet, but it seems to not be so. It's funny to me that I'm just figuring that out now, I suppose the takeaway is to just get on with it and stop making a fuss.. So, yes, the shrimp was delicious and it was slightly fun to be eating them with the old men that were aware of me, but no big deal and there was no overwhelming joy of having reached the summit of a mountain of challenge.


Spaniards being Spaniards. This was a four cigarette convo


Like most of the other places I visit for the first time, I'm in love with Seville and have already decided which neighborhood I'll live in when I retire. To make things better, there's a buddy who is on board and then, a sign it will certainlly happen, Nat supportively texted me the image below. Imagine the monster jars of olives stuffed with anchovies they must have. I hope they don't have that bad tasting Hawaiian bread they always serve at the sample tables. Once I've figured out what they do serve, I'll be able to con Nat into visiting.


Member since 1998


Prettiness in the hood


Seville is a low-key beautiful city, and by that I mean not like Nantucket or Stockbridge or Utrecht which are quaint, pretty and perfect, nor Valetta, which is beautiful if you squeeze your eyes almost shut to oversee the chipping paint and dusty windows. It's an ancient city inside the walls, modernized enough but not too much, predominantly filled with residents rather than the likes of me, and neither crowded nor desolate. Buildings, streets and storefronts are clean and well-maintained and everything seems to just sort of work. One of the things I was struck by was seeing people getting out of work around 7pm (3 to 5 everything is shut down), the lack of urgency, stress on their faces, tiredness. I hope that for more than a week, I will remember how to lead a better, slower, more deliberate and content life. No one ever seems under pressure, they walk 3, 4 or 5 abreast, chatting away and don't concern themselves with Americans who might be impatient and in a super rush for no particular reason other than conditioning. Drivers wait for pedestrians and don't seem resentful, and eating, drinking and talking appears to be one of the cornerstones of the life of a Sevilliano. I would love to get closer to that, and am convinced I'd get more out of life.


OK, I do have to boast about one thing I did that gives me hope, no doubt inspired by my daughter who at the age of 9 had to covince me that it was worth waiting in a 5 minute line at the Tower of London to see the crown jewels. The airbnb owner was supposed to meet me at the place at an appointed time. When I exited the cab on a very narrow and fairly used sidewalk, with my excessive luggage, I got a text that he wouldn't be there for 45 minutes. I replied "no problem", took off my coat got out my book, enjoying it, the scenery and locals while the sun shone.


Afternoon beer and my book, Demon Cooperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, which is a good story, Glaswegians in the background, singing their sports shanties


A funny flavor to the week was the hundreds of Glaswegian rugger players that accompanied me almost everywhere I went. They were at the bull ring, tapas bars, afternoon cafes, where they sang their songs in unison while quaffing litres and litres of ales. And then they were at the airport, though not headed to Madrid. How were they identifiable? Fluorescently white skin with ink, sports jerseys on every age, short hair, large in stature, burly. With an accent which was unintelligble, I first thought it was an Eastern European language.


So hopefully I'll be back in Seville with a posse of friends, able to take over sections of cafes and tapas bars, but in the meantime, I've got a coat that smells like saffron, while will hold me till then.


By the way, I got the best idea for a website that would be most excellent for travellers. Do you know anyone who can design interactive websites? LMK if so.


Off to the country of my birth and back to the grey.


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