Friday, April 22, 2011

Laura Arrives for a Local Color Tour of Sevilla

Friday, April 15

Serving as the ambassador of sorts for the family, Laura arrived in Sevilla on Thursday, April 14.  She had been traveling for 18 hours; she was relieved to see me as I suddenly appeared at the Sevilla airport earlier than expected.  Before our departure to London two days later, I would lead Laura through a local color tour of Sevilla.  Compared to many English-speaking tourists, Laura truly got the insider treatment. 

To counter the effect of jet lag, I had to keep her awake a few more hours.  We passed the time by meeting up with some of my closest Spanish friends: Valeriano and Ángeles (and her friend, Loli).  They are all taking the same English class together.  Ángeles and Loli are both older whereas Valeriano is my age.  We have met several times now to practice conversation.  They need the most help with pronunciation (as do I, to some extent).  Most memorably, that night we practiced the "sh" sound (which they have trouble with) and gathered some grins from the surrounding tables.  They took care to include Laura and were excited to be understood by someone who does not speak a word of Spanish.  I was flattered by what they told Laura about me.  They agreed they did not have to talk slowly to me in Spanish, rather I understand them at their normal speed.  They also complemented my accent and level of vocabulary.  Since Ángeles and Valeriano have interacted with some of my peers, they cannot say the same of them.  It was a nice confidence boost for me.  We ordered a swath of tapas for Laura's introduction to the taste of Sevilla.  By the end, Laura was fading; Valeriano advised that she get a good night sleep "to feel like a new person."  "Muy bien dicho" (very well said), I said, complementing his English.

The next day the sightseeing trek began with the Plaza de España, not far from my apartment.  We had started our day passing through the business school and enjoying the typical Spanish breakfast of jamón, toast, and olive oil in the cafeteria.  We continued through the historic campus and the Jewish Ghetto to arrive at our first main sight, the Alcázar.  I had visited this site my first weekend in Sevilla, when it was cloudy and relatively cold.  Visiting it now on a perfect day in Sevilla, I had a different experience.  I also brought a new perspective, having been to many similar sites.  I was reminded that this Moorish fortress was commissioned by Catholic Kings, not Muslims.  Thus, it is in the Moorish style, but all of the symbols and images are of coat of arms or non-religious themes.  It is amazing to think Catholics wanted a Muslim palace.  Laura relished in the connections to her beloved English history.  One part, built and inhabited by Ferdinand and Isabella was also home to Catherine of Aragon, future wife of Henry VIII of England.  It was a good royal preview to our trip to London.  We soaked up the sun (another thing foreign to Laura) in the gardens outside the palace.

We walked for a time around the close-knit Jewish Quarter, the "Barrio de Santa Cruz," before finding a tapas lunch at Vineria San Telmo.  I navigated the Spanish staff and menu, and together we enjoyed some rich Spanish flavor.  Our next central stop was the Catedral.  Again, I rediscovered this site and compared it with my other church experiences this trip.  It also provided a perfect escape from the heat of the day.  Now I know why churches are dark: old-fashioned air conditioning.  We also went to another church to admire some of the Semana Santa floats.  We then enjoyed the "Paseo" at 7 pm, the time when everyone gets up from their nap and goes shopping.  We picked up some homemade special Sevilla ice cream and the traditional Semana Santa sweets for our "Merienda" -- the 7 pm light dessert treat in Spain (yes, in Spain you eat dessert before, not after dinner).  We watched the sun set over the river and crossed the bridge over in Triana.  There we ate some early (9 pm) jamón in one of my boss's favorite historic bars. 

We returned home to find Montse and her friend Carmon and Ceci in the living room.  Montse insisted that we try her Tortilla de Patatas (sorry to Laura, who was already full).  Montse said she had been discussing with Carmon that she wants me to stay in Sevilla.  This was really flattering.  I have always been close with Montse, but ultimately I recognize that I am an American that she has to feed twice a day (and nurse back to good health, like last week).  Now I know I am more than that to her.  This comment affirms our close bond.  I hope to maintain the relationship after I leave, and of course, I will have to return.  Now I know I have a home in Sevilla, and that I am a part of a Spanish family.  I had wanted this from the beginning, and I am thrilled it came to be. 

The next day was reserved for getting to London.  Montse had made sandwiches for the both of us to take to the airport.  Thank you, Montse!  To see pictures of Laura's visit to Sevilla, see

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