Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday night in Seville

I have no idea why the previous post carries Wednesday's date, given that it was posted 6pm Friday, Seville time. Even daylight savings time can't make up that much of a difference.

Right now it's 9:30 pm Friday in Seville, and I thought I'd try at least one post to capture impressions of the past week or so. This is likely to be a little disjointed, so if you will all forgive the infelicity of style, I'm going to opt for that popular format for those with short attention spans, the bulleted list (as opposed to, say, the tightly knit narrative arc, or possibly 'ark', though a knitted ark probably would do nobody much good).

  • First off, have I mentioned how wonderfully, ecstatically, blissfully happy I feel? "Beatific" is the polite term for the grin that seems to be plastered more or less permanently on my face these days (there's a less polite, hyphenated term that ends in eating, but we won't go there). I don't want to gloat, but it seems important to record this at least once, upfront. No gloating intended, I am conscious of, and deeply appreciative of, my blessings in being here.
  • I've also never been as exhausted in my whole life. But it's the best kind of tired, from a week full of new people, new experiences, the dread subjunctive, walking all over the place, getting lost, reacting in a less than stellar fashion to the majesty of flamenco (see previous post). But boy am I going to sleep in tomorrow morning - I've earned it, damnit.
  • Seville - vignette # 1. I'd forgotten the Spanish obsession with cleanliness, which manifests itself in all kinds of odd, unexpected ways. Such as, for instance, Peppa, my hugely asthmatic, chain-smoking landlady/hostess (though I thought I had signed up to live in "la residencia", or "the dorm", for my time here in Sevilla, la residencia has turned out to be suspiciously like being in residence with a family, hence Peppa) who somehow managed, while showing me the shared bathroom, to inspect my toiletries kit, pull out my sponge and convey her immediate beaming approval, declaring the possible alternative - a washcloth, presumably - to be a breeding ground for germs and enfermedades generally. Anyway, I passed the sponge test. But everytime you turn around, someone somewhere is hosing down the pavement behind you. Nowhere is this more the case than in the area around the cathedral, where they don´t just hose it down, they steam-clean it. With these really high-pressure steamers. I´ve seen little blue-haired tourist ladies jump several feet in the air because some guy started up one of those things just next to them. This weekend, of course, the whole city is deep in preparation for Semana Santa, which starts off on Palm Sunday (Domingo des Ramos). So the cleaning frenzy has reached new heights, as they get the viewing platforms in place along the Avenue de la Constitution. But I have to say that I did a genuine double-take when I say that the steam-cleaning efforts extended to cleaning the trees along the main procession route. I kid you not. A cadre of six obradores were slowly but surely working their way along the main drag, carefully steam cleaning each and every tree along the way, down to the last leaf. One can only hope the dignitaries appreciate the effort.
  • Obsession with hygiene notwithstanding, the number of smokers here is still -frankly - shocking. My favorite teacher, Paco, whom I remember from four years ago as having a fine robust tubercular cough has now progressed to full cancer alert (medical opinions my own, obviously). He suffers visible distress to make it to classes on the third floor (remember the 3rd floor here is really 3 floors up). The sad part is the guy can't be more than 35. of course, you never know, he could outlive us all. But I'd have to think the odds aren't in his favor.
  • Although I still get lost every time I head out of doors, this visit I've actually realized that Seville is a small, walkable city. This realization is liberating because it means that no matter how lost one might feel, recovery is always possible. For whatever reason, I'm much happier this trip to ask for help (something which has given me difficulty all my life), and people are just terrific about making sure they help you on your way. Though one does occasionally encounter that New York tendency of people - usually men - who will confidently pass on complete misinformation rather than admit ignorance
  • So, my internet cafe buddy is starting to give me the evil eye, which I will take as a hint to wrap up these meanderings.
  • Which I will just post, now, without even giving things the once over. Asking for y'all's forbearance and assuring you that, whatever blogspot might think, it is Friday march 30th, 10pm in Sevilla, signing out for now.


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