Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Profile (and Silhouette) of a Bullfighter

I haven't yet replaced my camera. I went online and found what I want at a very good price. But, I didn't immediately order it because it meant I would have to wait a week for its arrival. So now, 1-1/2 weeks later, I haven't found the camera around town for a comparable price and will order it ... and wait a week. Meanwhile, I'm still using my phone to record my experiences.

I took a walk to Triana last week under another brilliantly blue and sunny sky. Although I'm not a fan of bullfighting, to say the least, there's a statue that I do like that's dedicated to Juan Belmonte (1892–1962), Triana's most famous bullfighting son. I took a picture of the statue when we were here for the first time in January 2011 because I was taken in by his profile (an excruciatingly prominent nose). The statue was tucked into some trees and, from my angle, I didn't immediately realize it was very contemporary. So, I now find it interesting for more than just his nose.

LOOKING ACROSS THE RIVER TO LA GIRALDA.
(WISH I HAD A "REAL" CAMERA.)

On this walk, when I was behind the statue and glanced back at the city, I saw that La Giralda (the Cathedral's bell tower) was perfectly framed in one of the cut-out spaces in the form. Belmonte's technique was unlike that of earlier matadors. He stood erect and motionless within inches of the bull. As a result, he was frequently gored. In a 1927 bullfight in Barcelona, he was gored through his chest and pinned against the wall. I wonder if the empty space in the sculpture symbolizes that little event.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Don't Be Bitter... Orange

TREE-TRIMMING.

It's the time of year here for the "Seville Oranges" to be harvested. There are more than 14,000 bitter orange trees lining the streets and plazas of Sevilla. They outnumber every other tree in the city and have been around Sevilla for centuries. It's said the Moors began to cultivate them here in the 12th century. Some trees in Spain are said to be over 600 years old.

 WORKING THEIR WAY AROUND THE PLAZA.

The other morning, while we enjoyed our café con leche and tostadas downstairs at El Sanedrín, a work crew arrived and began to trim the trees and box up the oranges on our plaza. The same business is going on all around town. Then the oranges are shipped off to make marmalade.

 LOADING THE TRUCK.

Now we can look forward to the pungent fragrance of the orange blossoms that begin to bloom in March. It will bring back sweet memories of Southern California. We were overwhelmed with the fragrance our first spring in San Diego when we drove into the hills past the orange orchards, with the car windows down. Some years later, we sat by the pool on warm spring nights in Palm Springs and breathed in the citrus-laden air from the trees we had planted behind the hotel. I'm told the entire city of Sevilla fills with the scent. Too bad I can't do a "scratch-n-sniff" blog post.

LATE THAT NIGHT IN ANOTHER PART OF TOWN.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Sister(and Brother)hood of the Traveling Shirt

Although I am not thrilled to post current photos of myself and do so rarely, I am happy to share a few photos today. It's not that I mind that I'm not as young as I used to be. I just hate photos of myself. I hated looking at photos of myself at 15 when I was 15, at 30 when I was 30, at 40 when I was 40. Now I don't mind those. So, maybe when I'm 90, I'll like looking at photos of myself at 50... OK, 50-plus. OK, OK, 50 and a lot of pluses.

But these photos are for a good cause. The shirt (also know as the Spo Shirt, Shirt of Shirts, and Traveling Shirt) was created by a talented and generous American blogger, Ur-spo, who at the suggestion of another blogger, Cubby, sent this handmade shirt on a world tour in late 2010. Ur-spo is donating money to charity for each person who wears the shirt and shares a photo. A number of charity options were provided; my choice was Doctors Without Borders.

MEETING FOR A DRINK IN PLAZA DEL SALVADOR TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

As you may remember, my camera died (well, I killed it) recently, so photos from my phone are the best I can do while I wait for my new camera to arrive. My gratitude goes to Lola for doing such a good job with a limited resource and a difficult model. From the two shots I've included, you'd think all I do is wander the sunny streets going from bar to bar. Definitely not the case. Really. The shirt has almost completed its world tour; I think it's got four-or-so more stops before it is handed over to Cubby, the mastermind of the charity tour. I am number 29 on the list of lucky recipients and I am honored to participate.

A BREAK... FROM A BEER BREAK... AT LA PERLITA FRIDAY. NEAR THE CHURCH OF LA MAGDALENA.

The shirt came to me after a stop in Derbyshire in the UK. Next stop is somewhere in Australia, New Zealand, California, or Texas. I await my instructions. And, if Ur-spo ever decides he's had enough of his work as a psychiatrist, he can take up tailoring for a living. The shirt is beautifully made. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Rules of the Road

WALKING HOME THE OTHER NIGHT VIA CALLE REYES CATÓLICOS (STREET OF THE CATHOLIC KINGS).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Day at the Beach

A GOOD PLACE TO SPEND AN AFTERNOON.
Monday morning, Jerry and I were awakened by the alarm clock at the crack of dawn. It was 7:45 a.m. here but I'm sure it was the crack of dawn somewhere. We rarely see 7:45 a.m. We met Teré at the bus station (the bus we needed did actually leave from there this time) and the three of us headed down to the beach for the day. Teré is very proud of her upbringing in Conil de la Frontera, a small pueblo on the Atlantic Ocean just east of the city of Cádiz. It's about a 1-3/4-hour drive south from Sevilla.

WHERE TERÉ WAS CHRISTENED AND BAPTIZED.

MUNICIPAL OFFICES (SINCE THE 1700s) TO THE RIGHT OF THE CHAPEL IN PART OF THE OLD MONASTERY.

The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but Conil's origins go back to the Phoenicians (some time around 900 BC, give or take 100 years), who established a new way of tuna fishing called "almadraba." I won't go into the details of almadraba except to explain that it's a net maze that traps the fish in a central pool. It's used less and less now because it's tough on fish populations. By 711 AD, the Moors reached Conil and ruled until the "reconquest" by the Christians in 1265. The words "de la Frontera" were added to the name at that time.

MONUMENT TO THE ALMADRABA FORM OF FISHING.

Jerry and I arrived with Teré late morning 2012 AD, nearly 800 years after the Christians and more than 1,300 years after the Moors. We went and had breakfast (#2) at a little café in town where we got to spend some time with Teré's father and brother, who were (no surprise) kind, warm, fun, and gracious, and made us feel immediately welcome. We three then headed with Teré's brother to another café across the street from the beach for a drink. I was looking forward to some vino dulce (sweet wine made with raisins), but the café was all out. So, instead, I had a soda and we all enjoyed the warm sunshine.

THE ARCH IN THE BACKGROUND SEPARATES THE OLD FROM THE NEW PART OF TOWN.

We took a walk around town, bumping into Teré's extended family and childhood friends everywhere we went. The entire town was tranquil with few people about. It was much larger in area than we expected and has a population of about 21,000. We were told in summer the population increases to well over 100,000. I can't imagine it. Although I would enjoy browsing the shops and street markets that thrive in summer (and are mostly closed in winter), I have no desire to compete for space with the mobs and am really glad we got to explore on a quiet winter's day.

SIXTEENTH-CENTURY CHURCH OF SANTA CATALINA,
WITH MODERN "RESTORATION" IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY AND RENOVATIONS IN 2008.

We had an unbelievably good seafood lunch beginning with delicious small sandwiches of "marrajo," which turned out to be what we knew as mako shark. I didn't get a picture of the sandwiches because we ate them too fast. I did, however, get one picture of our delectable fried seafood sampler plate before knocking my camera off the tall table and onto the marble floor. The camera did not survive the plunge. My smart phone will have to do until I buy a new camera — and it "did" for many of the photos shown here.

A FRIED SEAFOOD SAMPLER FOR LUNCH. MOMENTS BEFORE I BROKE MY CAMERA.
After lunch, we walked some more and then headed back down to the water. We walked in the sand to a little beach café and sat and relaxed (over coffee and pastries) for about an hour. You can walk this stretch of beach for 17 km (10 miles). We, however, didn't walk the entire length — going about 1/4 km (about 270 yards). We then headed back to the edge of town to catch the bus home.

LOOKING WEST FROM OUR CAFÉ ON THE BEACH.
KEEP GOING, VEER A BIT NORTH, AND YOU'LL EVENTUALLY REACH THE DOWAGER DUCHESS.

There was a pleasant and very typical café bar across from the bus stop. We arrived early for the bus, so headed inside where we found a group of locals sitting and playing cards at one of the tables. Of course, Teré and her father knew the owner/bartender. Her father also knew all the card players. I got to have my vino dulce. And Jerry was pleased to find a video gaming machine by the door. Teré's father played along with him, showing Jerry what buttons to press at bonus time. Jerry never quite understood how it worked, but he managed to double his money before we left town. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for a new camera.

JERRY TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE SOME MONEY.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Birthday Feast, Spanish Style

SOME OF JERRY'S FIRST SPANISH BIRTHDAY DINNER.

Saturday morning turned out just as I had hoped. Jerry went into the kitchen first thing in the morning to find his chocolatey chocolate-truffle birthday pastry. And, apparently, it was as delicious as had been promised by the man behind the counter at La Campana. Jerry then had his yogurt and fruit, and we finally went downstairs to El Sanedrín for desayuno #3.

LOS COCINEROS (THE CHEFS).
Teré then told me that she and Miguel wanted to cook us a typical Spanish birthday dinner at our house. So, they arrived around 9:30 that night loaded down with bags and bags of food. Jerry and I were hustled out of the room and "the caterers" went to work.

We had camarones (tiny shrimp), gambas (bigger shrimp), and large langoustines. The teeny, tiny camarones were to be eaten in their entirety, we were instructed by Teré. (After all, how does one peel a shrimp smaller than the tip of one's pinky?) I figured it was like eating soft-shell crab — which, to be honest, I have never enjoyed. It was — and I enjoyed it just as little! As Teré popped a handful in her mouth, Jerry and I each tried one. I mumbled, "I've got shrimp shell on my tongue." What was left over after dinner went home with Teré. Everything else induced moans of pleasure. There were meats and rolls and flatbreads and crisps. Delicious slices of fish roe (called huevas). Three different patés. Cheeses, including a cubed cheese laced with orange marmalade and mango. Wine with dinner. Champagne with dessert. And what a dessert. A beautiful cake (tarta) filled with more incredibly delicious chocolate truffle. (Jerry and I had smartly decided to forego chocolate y churros in the afternoon.) We had the remaining tarta Sunday for dessert after both lunch and dinner. By Monday morning, we realized we would have to wait a good long time before eating sweets again. We stood firm. We didn't have any chocolate pastries until very late in the afternoon.

I don't have the words — in Spanish or English — to fully express our gratitude for the friendship, the kindness, the generosity, and the joy that Miguel and Teré have brought into our lives these past months. After shopping for this feast of traditional Spanish dishes, hauling it all to our house, working feverishly (and joyfully) in our kitchen for an hour or more, and then serving it all up beautifully, they actually insisted on cleaning up afterward. But I was equally insistent and I won the battle. It was the least I could do (yes, the absolute least).

ONE CANDLE FOR JERRY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY IN SPAIN.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feliz Cumpleaños, Geraldo

Today is Jerry's birthday. I don't know exactly what the day has in store. I know it starts with a chocolatey chocolate-truffle pastry surprise I picked up yesterday evening from La Campana. I asked for the most chocolatey chocolate pastry they had. I then had it wrapped so it would stay fresh, snuck it into the house, and hid it away until morning.


We will eventually go downstairs to El Sanedrín for desayuno (breakfast) #2 of tostados and café con leche, which will probably really be desayuno #3 for Jerry, since, in addition to the chocolatey chocolate-truffle pastry, I'm sure he'll have had his Greek yogurt and fruit.



This afternoon we'll go for a walk together, perhaps, and enjoy some churros and chocolate. Unless of course this morning's chocolatey chocolate-truffle pastry makes that a chocolate overload. (But it's not likely.) However, Jerry did devour the remainder of a dark chocolate bar after dinner last night. And instead of lunch yesterday, I finished off a box of chocolate truffles. It's been that kind of week... especially for me.

I guess we'll have dinner out somewhere, since Jerry shouldn't have to cook on his birthday. We all know I won't be slaving in the kitchen.

Jerry and I stopped buying each other birthday gifts years ago. We buy what we want when we want it and, now, when we can afford it. Once we began to plan our move to Spain, we stopped buying just for the sake of buying. Even so, I looked around town for something special and couldn't come up with anything.

So today, a bit of chocolate will have to do. Along with my gratitude for this rich and wonderful life filled with joy, adventure, laughter, kindness, compassion, and love. In all my youthful dreaming, I never dreamed anyone as remarkable as Jerry.


THIS SONG SAYS IT ALL.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Up The Hill, Not Over It

I had a charming evening with Teré and Miguel in Carmona last week on Monday. Carmona is about a half-hour drive east northeast of Sevilla, a bit more by bus. The city dates back to 100–44 BC, one of the strongest Roman cities in Hispania during the time of Julius Caesar. In later centuries, the Moors built a wall around it for protection. It was finally captured by Ferdinand III of Castille in 1247.

JUST WALKING THROUGH TOWN.

We took the bus with the simple plan to have coffee at El Parador, the hotel at the top of the highest hill. Paradores are luxury hotels in Spain that were usually originally palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries, and other historic buildings. The one in Carmona, Parador Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro, was a Moorish fortress (and before that a fortress of the Carthaginians) added onto by King Pedro the Cruel. It's now a modern hotel, but the oldest parts of the structure date back to the 12th and 13th centuries AD. Anyone I've met in Sevilla who has suggested a visit to Carmona has insisted that it would not be complete without a walk up the hill to the Parador for a cup of coffee.

APPROACHING EL PARADOR.
Since our only goal on my first visit was to have a cup of coffee (OK, and dessert) at El Parador, I have got to get back and explore the ancient Roman ruins and as much of the other history I can take in. And then bore you with the results!

WELCOME TO EL PARADOR.

Teré and Miguel have taken the bus to Carmona often. I met them at the bus station, El Prado de San Salvador, which is about 1-1/4 miles from my house. I was there a few minutes before them but I couldn't find any posting that included a bus to Carmona. While I looked, Miguel and Teré arrived and were also perplexed. After visiting two different ticket windows of two different bus companies, we were directed outside to an unmarked white door that led to an office next to the buses. Miguel knocked and peaked in. A very pleasant man came out and said the Carmona bus didn't leave from there anymore. It now left from San Bernardo Station another 3/4-mile further on. We hustled over to San Bernardo with 4 minutes to spare, jogging the last 1/4-mile only to miss the bus by three minutes. (I have been very, and in this case sadly, impressed with the promptness of Sevilla's and Spain's public transportation.)

LEADING INTO THE PARKING LOT AND COURTYARD. I'M ABOUT TO DO ANOTHER SPRINT.

We had an hour until the next bus to Carmona, so we went for a walk to the the Gardens of La Buhaira (where Jerry and I saw that very strange performance of "Carmen" what seems like years ago). That was probably 1/4-mile away. We strolled the gardens and then walked back to wait another 15 minutes for the bus.

LOOKING BACK TO THE ARCHWAY ONCE INSIDE THE COURTYARD/PARKING LOT.

We left Sevilla late in the day (around 5 p.m.) so, once we arrived in Carmona, we didn't dawdle in the town itself. We were anxious to get to El Parador before the sun was too low to truly appreciate the view, and then the spectacular colors of the sunset. We power-walked entirely uphill about 1/2-mile, through the winding streets of the town. I would stop to take a quick snapshot and would then sprint to catch up with Teré and Miguel.

A VIEW FROM THE TERRACE.

El Parador was worth the trip. The modern hotel is built around the ancient structure and has a large terrace that overlooks the entire valley. We had our coffee and pastries, admired the view, enjoyed one another's company and then headed back down into town to catch the 8:00 bus. I was feeling so smug in my physical fitness (and the fact that I could easily keep up, and then some, with 30-somethings) that, once back in Sevilla, I walked the two miles home from the bus stop. It took me 30 minutes.

ABOUT TO HEAD OUT AND BACK DOWN THE HILL.

Jerry and I had a late dinner and I woke up Tuesday morning for my coffee with Lola feeling tired and achey. I chalked it up to all the power-walking I had done Monday, disappointed that I couldn't keep up as well as I had thought.

THE BELL TOWER OF THE PRIORIAL DE SANTA MARIA.
So, it was with some kind of twisted relief that, during my sleepless Tuesday night, I realized I was more than just tired... And, especially, that it probably had nothing to do with Monday's activity level. I had fever, chills, stomach problems (that linger), and over the course of the week, I grew just generally miserable and, I'm convinced, miserable to be around. So, now that my physical health is mostly recovered, I'm trying to recover the positive attitude I had been working so hard to resurrect. Jerry is a saint.

WINDING OUR WAY DOWN.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Under the Weather

I've been sick. Or, as I've told Lola it's more proper to say, I've been ill. I'm sure the literal translation of "under the weather" won't make any sense in Spanish. It might even mean something dirty. So, I won't try that. I've been in bed and miserable for two days — stomach, chills, aches, sweats. It hasn't been fun, but I think I'm on the mend. Jerry is a good nurse. So expect to see a post from me soon about a charming evening spent in Carmona.