Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carrying the Body Through the Streets

Yesterday presented another first for me in Sevilla. I was walking near the Cathedral with a couple of friends from Santa Barbara who were passing through town, giving them an overview of the city. As we were rounding the corner of the Archbishop's Palace, I heard the drums of a marching band. It was somber and sounded like another religious procession. I rushed in the direction of the music with my friends close behind. We came upon a small procession. There was a float being hoisted by its invisible strongmen (hidden under the curtain). But, there was no seated or standing Virgin atop the float. As we neared it, we realized it was a silver and glass coffin. We immediately calmed ourselves respectfully, thinking we had come upon a funeral.

On closer inspection, I was relieved to see that beneath the glass was not a corpse, but a statue. We watched it pass having no idea — other than the Latin inscription I photographed — who it was or what the occasion.

A BIT UNNERVING AT FIRST SIGHT.

Last night, I did some research and learned that what we had stumbled on was a very big deal. It was in honor of the 200th anniversary of Don Bosco's birth. I'll provide my own "dumbed-down" (for myself) version of what I read.

Don Bosco (Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest who, in 1845, founded The Salesians, a charity organization to help the young and poor children of the industrial revolution. The "institute" is named for St. Francis de Sales, an early-modern bishop of Geneva. The corpse-like statue encased permanently under glass is a reliquary; apparently the right hand of Saint Don Bosco is encased within the chest cavity of this particular statue. This is the first time the reliquary has ever visited Sevilla. It's making its rounds of the city this weekend and we just happened to be at the Cathedral at the right time. Later on, San Geraldo and I went for a walk and came upon another band preparing to march from the Plaza de San Lorenzo.

WE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THEY WERE HEADED, BUT WE JOINED THEM ANYWAY.
THE SOUR-SOUNDING BAND WOUND THROUGH TOWN, FINALLY TURNING ONTO THIS STREET.
THE BAND STOPPED OUTSIDE A SCHOOL CREATED BY THE SALESIAN ORDER.
WHO SHOULD EMERGE? DON BOSCO.


In 2006, Don Bosco's hand was packed in a silver box and tied with a red ribbon before being placed inside the statue. Imagine finding that under the Christmas tree!

AND, FINALLY, HOW WE ENDED OUR PILGRIMAGE LAST NIGHT.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lope de Vega is Not a Drag Queen

ALSO NOT A DRAG QUEEN.
I am ashamed to admit that, until my first visit to Sevilla in early 2011, I had no idea who Lope de Vega was. So, when I noticed a small poster advertising what looked like some very avant garde, campy theater, I thought he was a local drag queen. Not so.

Lope de Vega (1562–1635) is one of the most prolific authors in the history of literature. He is said to have transformed Spanish baroque theater. Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) called him "the phoenix of wits" and he is sometimes referred to internationally as "the Spanish Shakespeare." Shame on me! The poster I had seen (and I've seen many since) was promoting a play being performed at the Lope de Vega Theater here in Sevilla.

So, this post in truth really doesn't have much to do with drag queens. The opening photo is of Jerry's father dressed up for a PTA (Parent Teacher Association) fundraiser in the 1950s. Jerry's father did not have a drag name. And it's just as well. He obviously wouldn't have had much of a career. He also was a very good sport and wouldn't have minded at all that I've shared this photo.

So, What's It About?
This post is about some of the original pavilions — beginning with the Lope de Vega Theater — that were built here for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 (for which the Plaza de España was created) and how the buildings are currently being used. In addition to the buildings I describe here, there were many other beautiful structures created for the 1929 Exposition. Some are museums, some consulates, and others are part of the university.

SEVILLE PAVILION, THEATER, AND CASINO.
LOPE DE VEGA THEATER.
LOPE DE VEGA LOBBY; ORIGINALLY THE CASINO.

ARGENTINA PAVILION.
CURRENTLY SEVILLA'S DANCE CONSERVATORY.

GUATEMALA PAVILION.
PART OF THE DANCE CONSERVATORY.

COLOMBIA PAVILION.
THE CONSULATE OF COLOMBIA.

MEXICO PAVILION.
PART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA.

MUDEJAR PAVILION (PALACE OF DECORATIVE ARTS)
MUSEO DE ARTES Y COSTUMBRES POPULARES (THE MUSEUM OF ARTS AND TRADITIONS).

RENAISSANCE PAVILION (BEHIND TREES).
ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM.

My Drag Name
Oh, in case you're wondering, I have never done drag. But, if I were to create a drag name based on the name of my first pet and the first street where I lived (as is one of the suggested ways to do so), that name would be Starr Van Siclen. I like it! Maybe a new career is on the horizon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rainy Days and Thursdays

It's raining in Sevilla! I don't think we've seen rain here since early May. I like it. Temporarily. Rainy days and Mondays do not get me down. Nor do rainy days and Thursdays. Unless there are also rainy days Tuesday and Wednesday. A couple of days of good, soaking rain followed by several days of sun, that's the way I like it and that's what's supposed to happen this week. So, I'm enjoying the wet and shiny streets and I'm going to go take a walk in what has now slowed to a drizzle.

THIS MORNING FROM THE DINING ROOM BALCONY.

San Geraldo needed to do his supermarket shop today, so we decided to grab an early meal downstairs at Dos de Mayo before the lunch rush hit. Most of the seating is outside and, since there was a possibility the patio umbrellas wouldn't protect from the sometimes heavy rain, we knew inside would fill up fast. Our plan worked. We got our favorite table tucked below the front windows. By the way, an early lunch here for us is between 1 and 1:30. The Kid Brother would not approve. He always has "... lunch at noon, ya know!"



We have both begun a routine of returning home after breakfast every day and doing at least an hour of Rosetta Stone Spanish at our respective computers. The daily habit makes an enormous difference. Unfortunately, it didn't help San Geraldo at the supermarket today because he hasn't yet reached the lesson on how to say "boneless." But the butcher understood by hand signals and simply boned a chicken right then.

HIGH AND DRY AT OUR FAVORITE TABLE.

Sometime during the night when the rains started to heavily fall, an alarm in the neighborhood began sounding at regular intervals. Fortunately, it was not one of those intolerable screeching alarms and it sounded like it was coming from inside a building somewhere nearby. It only squealed in very short bursts before stopping for about 15 minutes and then starting again. It was so innocuous I hadn't even thought to mention it. During lunch, we heard it one last time. San Geraldo looked at me and said, "There it is again! Do you know what kind of bird that is?"

DUDO. TRANSFIXED BY THE WATER POURING OFF THE ROOF ACROSS THE STREET.

Be the time we got out of bed, Moose and Dudo were clearly uninterested in San Geraldo's "bird." But, when we opened all the balcony doors, they were fascinated by the rain. Dudo ran insanely around the house for hours, from balcony to balcony, stopping every so often to stare at us with wonder, as if to say, "Oh my God! Do you see it??!  Is that rain?!?" He finally wore himself out.

TOO MUCH EXCITEMENT.
........
P.S.:
The Dowager Duchess let me know that the ruffled gown pictured in my last post ("Ice Cream and Hand-Me-Downs") was, as I suspected, not a hand-me-down. The dress was created for her when she was maid-of-honor at a sister's wedding. (If my father were here, he'd ask her whose shoes she wore. Fortunately, I inherited the smart-ass gene from him. So, Mom, whose shoes did you wear?)

P.P.S.:
Oh my God! It's pouring again. You'll have to excuse me. Dudo and I will be busy for a while. [Dudo! Dudo! Do you see it?!?]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ice Cream and Hand-Me-Downs

WOULD YOU BUY ICE CREAM
FROM THIS MAN?
Carvel Ice Cream. I haven't had it in years and don't know if I'd enjoy it as much as I used to since I met passionfruit at Villar and old cheese at Eslava — among the other great and unusual artisan ice creams here in Sevilla. But, when I was a kid, I absolutely loved Carvel ice cream. My favorite was a vanilla Brown Bonnet cone — soft-serve vanilla ice cream, quickly dipped in chocolate that set to a hard shell. I know you can now buy that stuff in a jar at the supermarket, but I'm sure it's not the same. At least not for me.

Tom Carvel founded the company in Connecticut in 1934 and was famous for doing his own advertising. In the '60s, he was still doing what I thought were really awful radio and TV spots. He ended many of them in his very gravelly voice with what I found to be a pathetic-sounding whine: "Please, buy my ice cream. Thank you." But, he's credited with being the "father of franchising" and was also referred to as "patriarch of the world's biggest mom and pop ice cream parlor."

THE MODERN STORE ON CONEY ISLAND AVENUE, BROOKLYN.

I didn't even realize Carvel was still in business until The Dowager Duchess and I were driving back after a perfect evening of tea and delicious organic freshly baked zucchini/chocolate cake at the home of her good friends, and we came upon the Carvel store on Coney Island Avenue. We would sometimes visit as a family and I liked going there for a Brown Bonnet when I first got my license (driver's license, that is; my ice cream license is a hereditary privilege passed to me by The Duchess, who could live contentedly on ice cream and only ice cream). It's not the same store. But, it's in the same spot, and it's about eight times the size. Now, you can actually walk inside. And they have freezer cases filled with ice cream cakes and other desserts and toppings. Those didn't exist when I was a kid or a young adult. All the store had was a walk-up window... and delicious soft-serve ice cream that you could buy for less than 50 cents.

JAHN'S. A MUCH BETTER PLACE FOR ICE CREAM.

Being an ice cream gourmand, The Dowager Duchess preferred Jahn's Ice Cream Parlor on Nostrand Avenue (and so did I). The first Jahn's opened in The Bronx in 1897. They had an amazingly huge menu, which included "The Kitchen Sink." At the time, it was served in an aluminum bowl (not much smaller than a sink) filled with every topping and whipped cream, and I can't remember how many scoops of every kind of ice cream you could want. It was said to serve eight. I shared it once with three friends. (At the time, we all wished we had had four more friends!) There's only one Jahn's remaining (in Queens) and the Kitchen Sink now costs $51.95. I'm sure it was well under $10 when I was a kid. (And as long as I'm so sure of everything: To get there, I'm sure we had to walk two miles, uphill both ways — even when my father drove.)

JAHN'S KITCHEN SINK.
I ACTUALLY ATE  A FOURTH OF ONE OF THESE (WHEN I WAS 14)!

A couple of times, I had what was called the "Boilermaker and Helper," which was meant to serve two or three people. That was — I'm again sure — less than $2.  But, I've been told by The Duchess that (although I didn't know it at the time) going to Jahn's was a splurge for our family of five. My father isn't here to disagree, so I'll have to take her word for it. I do know we went there often enough for me (at the time at least) to have memorized the menu.

MOM: Mama used to leave two nickels on the kitchen counter, so Matilda and I could go to the movies. Even that was a tremendous hardship. 
DAD: [Dramatic eye-roll.] 

MOM: My family was so poor, I never owned a new pair of shoes. I had to wear hand-me-downs from my three older sisters. And they had much bigger feet! 
DAD: You had shoes?!?

PROOF THAT HE, TOO, HAD SHOES (OF SORTS).
ELEGANT DRESS. DO YOU SUPPOSE IT WAS A HAND-ME-DOWN?

Monday, September 24, 2012

All About Breasts

If not for San Geraldo, I don't know what I would do for entertainment some days.

We were talking about the unfortunate situation of a friend of ours in the states whose employer only paid her for half the month because he said he didn't have the money. No apology. He's never been very pleasant and she's worked for him for less than a year. She told him if he's not going to be able to pay, she's not going to be able to stay.

As San Geraldo put it:
"That's the way it works. Tit for tit and tat for tat."

I guess that's the way it works in San Geraldo's world. For the rest of us, it's tit for tat.

The expression "tit for tat" means to return in-kind an injury received from another. In the Middle Ages (and San Geraldo may be forgiven for not knowing, since that was shortly before he was born), tippe and tappe were words that signified small blows (as in fighting). Spelling variations abounded and the words evolved to tip, tap, tit, and tat. In general, the expression simply means: equivalent retaliation. 

Lesson complete.

Say Cheese
While I'm on the subject of "tits" (although I've always wanted a tat), we have recently been enjoying a Galician cheese called "queso de tetilla," which means small-breast cheese(I've added the hyphen for clarity.) It's not what it sounds like. (Well, maybe it is.) It's a characteristic cheese made in Galicia (northwestern Spain) and is often used in desserts. It's probably been the cheese used in some of those cheese ice creams I've sampled.

QUESO DE TETILLA.
DELICIOUS, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT A BREAST MAN (OR WOMAN).

The cheese is called tetilla because it looks like a small breast topped by a nipple. Sometimes, instead of a nipple, it's topped by a shape like that of half a pear; then it's known as perilla cheese — small pear cheese. This is as opposed to small pair cheese, which I suppose would simply require two quesos de tetilla placed together.

A NICE PAIR OF TETILLAS.
Cheese photos courtesy of GranAbade.com

In case you're interested, queso de tetilla traditionally comes from the Galician Blonde Cow. I don't know why that struck me funny. But, enough of this romp with my adolescent sense of humor. My adolescence is not something I really want to revisit. As San Geraldo would say, "cherish the thought."*

A GALICIAN BLONDE.
Courtesy of The Full Wiki.
..........
*Yes, I know, that should be "perish" and not "cherish." But, just try getting San Geraldo to remember!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Like a Virgin

It seems like I haven't seen a Virgin in months. That's "Virgin" with a capital "V." Or in Sevilla, La Virgen. There were I know processions regularly throughout the summer but, unlike last year (our first year in Sevilla), I didn't run around taking pictures of them all. I was very grateful to not have to go very far this morning when at 10:15, San Geraldo said, "There's a small procession heading this way."

HEADING OUR WAY. VIEWED FROM THE DINING ROOM AT 10:15.

I grabbed my camera and went from balcony to balcony looking for the best angles and finally decided that downstairs was a better option. So, I threw on some clothes (yes, I was still in bed at 10:15) and popped downstairs. At noon, when we returned from breakfast and the procession had just returned to the streets, I took some more photos.

AT NOON, AFTER LEAVING THE CONVENT OF THE SISTERS OF SANTA ROSALÍA.
JUST AS SHE REACHED OUR BUILDING.

This particular Virgin was the first one we had seen process on our street after we moved in last year. So today was my second time! I wonder if that means I'm no longer a virgin. No need to respond. First of all, I was no longer a virgin a long (a very long) time ago. Besides, in answer to some questions I had of a sexual nature at the age of 12, my father told me a little (a very little) about the birds and the bees. I didn't buy a word of it. Actually, he was so embarrassed and nervous, some of what he told me turned out to not even be true! Lesson learned. After that, I just asked my friends.

TURNING THE CORNER ON HER WAY HOME.

But back to La Virgen. The Brotherhood of the Holy Cross annually carries "Our Lady of Sorrows" from a couple of streets away at the Capilla del Dulce Nombre de Jesús (Chapel of the Sweet Name of Jesus) for a brief visit to the nearby convent of the Sisters of Santa Rosalía. Around noon, she makes her return trip.

THE ENTOURAGE TAKING HER HOME.

There was no music, just a man with a battery-powered megaphone droning on in Latin the entire time. He offered an odd juxtaposition to the grandeur, elegance, and antiquity of the procession.

LATIN IS A DEAD LANGUAGE.  IT'S PLAIN ENOUGH TO SEE.
IT KILLED OFF ALL THE ROMANS.  AND NOW IT'S KILLING ME.

I've had a rough week (and two days). As if the jet lag and fitful sleep weren't bad enough, Tuesday evening I came down with a "bug" of some sort, felt awful, and didn't sleep one minute the entire night. The bug passed quickly, but then I felt as if the jet lag had started all over again. That of course brought on some depression. But, last night I slept (and didn't wake up until 10:15 as you'll recall).

It "made me feel... shiny and new."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ha Ha and Wamahtchekaowe

Given that my Spanish can be a bit limited and even sometimes quite embarrassing, I was surprised on my arrival in New York to discover that Spanish (well, Broken Spanish) has become my default language. I would automatically say "gracias" instead of "thanks," "hola" instead of "hi," "perdone" instead of "excuse me," "si" and "no" instead of "yes" and... well, you get the point.

BEFORE LEAVING SEVILLA. THEY UNDERSTOOD.

My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess even found herself translating for me in restaurants when I didn't understand the New York accents. "Can I get you more water?" sounded to me like "Kannagetchamowadah?" Although I've only lived in Spain a little over a year, I haven't lived in New York for a very long time. Some years back, that question might have made perfect sense. The Dowager Duchess, fortunately, is usually easy to understand. The Kid Brother, on the other hand, speaks pure Brooklynese/New Yorkese/Queensese... whadevuh. I usually don't have trouble understanding what he says because I've spent so many years imitating him. His accent and comments can be very entertaining. I just don't understand why my understanding doesn't carry over to the New York population in general. At Iberia check-in at Kennedy Airport, the woman at the counter asked me about the re-entry document folded within my passport. She had no need for it and didn't understand why I gave it to her. She asked me the question in New York City English. I apologized (unwittingly, in Spanish) for not understanding the question, so she repeated it in Spanish, which I understood perfectly. She then looked at my birthplace on my passport. I'm surprised I wasn't pulled aside for special screening. We then had a great conversation (in English) about my decision to live in Spain and about the magical city of Sevilla. But now I'm back in Sevilla and I say "breathe" ("respirar") instead of "wait" (esperar). The basic truth is I have never in my life felt like I fully belonged anywhere. But that's another story.

I may have mentioned before that the Spanish version of the English "ha ha" is pronounced the same but spelled "ja ja" (the "J's" are pronounced like "H's"). I think it's kind of funny. Perhaps not ja ja funny, but funny.

While in New York with The Dowager Duchess, I had the misfortune to watch a cooking show on TV. Any time the kid brother arrives he turns on the TV and watches cooking shows. The Dowager Duchess grudgingly (so she says) watches with him. I don't think it's so grudgingly because she usually insists on telling me what they cooked — in some detail. Me! Well, one morning, although the Kid Brother wasn't even there, The Dowager Duchess had the TV tuned to a cooking show. Ja! The host was Jamie Deen, one of two TV cooking sons of the TV cooking host Paula Deen. They're from Georgia.

AFTER SURVIVING A DRIVE THROUGH GEORGIA IN 1973.
WE FOUND OURSELVES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAYTONA BEACH MOTORCYCLE RALLY.

The traditional Georgian (Southern) accent is one I have always had some difficulty understanding. It all began with a university spring-break road-trip from New York to Daytona Beach, Florida. We were passing through rural Georgia in the middle of the night when our car broke down. It was creepy sitting on a pitch-dark rural road surrounded by huge trees draped heavily in Spanish moss. A state trooper arrived in uniform with a raw gash on his neck. There was fresh blood and it looked quite large for a shaving "nick." He asked if we wanted him to call a wrecker. "Wahmahtacohlarecka?" is what it sounded like. When we four New Yorkers finally understood what the obvious serial killer was asking, we went into panic. In New York, we called "wreckers" "tow trucks." We thought he was planning on taking the car somewhere and crushing it, probably with us in it. We didn't understand why he was giving us a choice. We finally did understand (when a tow truck arrived and he said "theyah's tha recka"). They towed us to a darkened gas station about 10 miles closer to the middle of nowhere. We slept in the car (with the doors locked) having no idea what was going to happen to us. In the morning, it was carefully explained (so we Northern idiots could understand) that all we needed was a new fan belt. After the repair was done, the creepy mechanic — filthy, gigantic, hairless, ash-colored, and dead around the eyes asked: "Wamahtchekaowe?" By the time he had repeated the question the fourth time, his fleshy ashen face was a purple gray and his eyes, although still dead, were bulging. "Oh!" we all repeated excitedly, "Want me to check the oil! Want me to check the oil!" "Yayah," he harumphed. "No thanks," we said. The car broke down in Georgia on the way home, too. I can't believe we survived that trip. Not to disparage Georgia, I've been told the city of Savannah is especially charming.

CHEF BROTHER BOBBIE DEEN (RIGHT) HELPING OUT UNTIL THE OTHER CHEF ARRIVED.
photo from a TV website

But, back to Jamie Deen and his cooking show. I have no idea what he was cooking. I just remember that there was a kid's birthday party going on in the backyard and they had a piñata. While the chef stood over the barbecue grill, he controlled the string to constantly readjust the height of the piñata so his son could practice on it. The goal was to let the kid have some fun without destroying the piñata before the guests arrived. The chef's wife warned him that the boy was getting too close. The chef smiled and then, I thought, laughed, "Ha ha." He then raised the piñata a bit and was told to raise it more. "Ha ha," he very clearly repeated. His wife gave him some instructions.

Then it hit me. He was not saying "ha ha." He was asking, "How high?"

Ja ja! (I wonder how you say "LOL" in Spanish. In "Georgian," I think there are two extra syllables.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Say "Jet Lag" in Spanish

Sometimes, translating phrases from English to Spanish is difficult and sometimes the exercise is pointless. The phrase has no meaning once translated. I tried to look up how to say "jet lag" in Spanish and I wasn't successful.

I asked one of our neighbors how it was said. "Jet lag," she responded.

I said, "Si. ¿Cómo se dice? (Yes. How do you say it?) 

"Jet lag," she repeated with a smile.

I was about to ask again but, despite my jet lag, I caught on. Jet lag in Spanish is "jet lag." And that's what I've got. But it's getting better. I slept fitfully through the night and was up at 10. (OK, I took a nap after breakfast, but still it's getting better.) I even met Albert for coffee Monday morning at 9. I walked there in my sleep, but it was still very pleasant conversation... I think. And, although Lola had a lot to do that morning, she walked over just to give me a "welcome home" kiss before running off. Nice.

THE PERFECT CURE FOR JET LAG?  GECKO CARAMEL VODKA.

We had lunch Sunday in Triana with Teré, Miguel, and Teré's charming mother who was passing through town. After lunch, the manager of the restaurant brought us free drinks. San Geraldo never does these after-dinner shots. He always finds them too medicinal. But he took a whiff and realized it was caramel (the print on the shot glasses might have given it away). He took a sip and loved it. The manager brought another round, but one was San Geraldo's limit. It wasn't mine, however. Sorry I didn't get a picture of our shots of caramel vodka before they were drained (or the second shots either). I was busy.

THE AFTER-SHOTS DESSERT SAMPLER.

Oddly, although we had no interest in dessert before the shots, we were all for dessert after the shots. Miguel ordered the sampler. We made fast work of it.

MY STYLE. BASIC BLACK.

Before I left for New York, I needed new traveling shoes. I bought a pair of Izod trainers for our first trip here in 2010, but they had to be retired. So, I went to El Corte Inglés and found an even better replacement. Pumas. My favorites. In black with a velcro strap for easy off and on at the airport. While in the shoe department, I saw they were having a sale on even easier off and on shoes. But one look told me it wasn't a difficult choice. Yellow, purple, red, orange, and green suede "moccasins" are not my style. I suppose I'll never look completely Sevillano.

A BIT TOO COLORFUL FOR ME (ESPECIALLY WHEN I HAVE JET LAG).

So, San Geraldo and I are back to our normal routine of breakfast downstairs at El Sanedrín. What a wonderful way to start the day. Once my jet lag passes, we might even again finish breakfast before noon.

THIS MORNING'S BREAKFAST TOSTADA WITH AROMATIC OLIVE OIL.

Monday night was a nice quiet dinner at home in front of the TV. San Geraldo made his slightly Sevillano version of hamburgers. I always have mine without a bun and San Geraldo has his with bun, open-faced, and drowning in ketchup. The contrast in styles is shocking. San Geraldo said I could post this photo as I long as I made it clear he wouldn't do this in a restaurant. (On a blog seen by thousands? Yes. In a restaurant? No.)

THAT'S MY DISH ON THE LEFT AND SAN GERALDO'S ON THE RIGHT.
WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT OUR PERSONALITIES?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Native New Yorkers and the Night of the Iguana

Two dear friends that I knew when I worked at my last (and worst) corporate job — one was in essence my business partner at work and the other was someone we both met at a trade show — came to Brooklyn Wednesday just to have dinner with me. PG, my workmate, flew several hours and Vince drove several hours. They are both people I am so grateful to know and to have in my life and I can't believe their generosity in coming all that way just for dinner with me — and the Dowager Duchess. We went out in Sheepshead Bay at a great Greek restaurant. My mother and I have been there before, and Vince coincidentally knows the owners' son. I of course had my camera. Did I think to take any pictures of us or our meal? No! But I did take a picture of a local resident.

ONE OF THE DUCHESS' NEIGHBORS OUT FOR AN EVENING STROLL.
(HER PERSONAL ASSISTANT CARRIED HER KIDS IN A CLOTH SACK.)

Our table was near broad French doors that opened onto a dining patio, the street, and the fishing port across the way. At one point, Vince gasped (I think he actually said, "Holy crap!" and then apologized to The Duchess for his language. I turned around to see a guy with a very large iguana on his shoulder. My mother turned and said, as if iguanas were a very common sight in Brooklyn, "Oh, I see them all the time. He walks her on a leash." Vince and I went outside for pictures. The restaurant owner and some staff went outside to pet the iguana. The owner of the iguana had several baby iguanas in a sack. He was selling them for $150 a piece. I offered to buy one for The Duchess. She turned me down... without even a "thank you very much."

THE IGUANA'S OWNER (IN THE YANKEES CAP) AND THE RESTAURANT MAÎTRE D.

When The Duchess shopped at Trader Joe's Tuesday morning, she returned with a Spanish Cheese Tapas Sampler to make me feel more at home. I didn't have any. She had some on a bagel with breakfast Thursday morning. Just the way they serve tapas in Sevilla?

THE PERFECT CHEESE FOR A NEW YORK BAGEL.

Given all the packages of Pepperidge Farms Double-Chocolate Milanos my mother bought for me (I even brought two home to Sevilla), and the 5 pounds of baked goods from Aunt Matilda, I didn't have any room for my childhood favorite from the bakery, a New York Black & White cookie. My sister and I used to love these major treats — very large cake-like cookies topped half with dark and half with white icing. I was tempted at a diner one day, but merely took a picture.

BLACK & WHITE COOKIES.  I RESISTED TEMPTATION.

I've written quite a bit about New York diners, and realized that many of my readers have no idea what that even means. So, I snapped a shot of The Duchess and The Kid Brother outside the Parkview Diner in Brooklyn (where the Kid Brother and I had Monte Cristo "sandwiches" — huge slabs of French toast topped with a ton of ham, turkey, melted cheese, and maple syrup; and enough French fries to feed a family of 6... or San Geraldo). The Parkview Diner is the one near Coney Island (you can see some of the rides from their windows) that has the menu with photos of the Parachute Jump and "The Dowager Duchess's Sailors."

WHAT A NEW YORK DINER LOOKS LIKE.

THE BETTER-LOOKING SON AND THE DOWAGER DUCHESS.
INSIDE PARKVIEW DINER. (WE COULDN'T BELIEVE HE LET HER REST HER HEAD ON HIS SHOULDER.)

Before I left Sevilla, San Geraldo looked at me and asked, "Who's going to cook for you two?" When The Duchess and I were not going out for lunch and dinner, I did the cooking! Every day, I would boil water for tea and actually steep the tea bag in each of our cups. I was the one who would slice the bagels. I even toasted my own frozen waffles one day. The Duchess commented that she did all the washing up all week and I responded, "That's the way it works." What a team.