Semana Santa Sevilla… Seeing is Believing

Imagine this. The streets are full of people. The men and boys are in suits, the women and girls in pretty dresses. Couples of all ages, families and groups of friends are everywhere. Figures who chillingly resemble the KKK are walking past you…

The crowds thicken until you can no longer move. You hear drums, trumpets, processions; everything is a blur. Suddenly, a large, moving, gold object emerges from nowhere; it holds a statue of Jesus carrying the cross. People gaze up in awe and begin to cry; they have been waiting for this….

To an outsider, Semana Santa can seem absurd. The mixture of the ‘party’ atmosphere with the overt devotion to moving gold statues is… uncomfortable.

Yet, I respect the tradition, I do. Like other customs, it marks identity and unites families. It also brings routine and normality to a year. The sevillanos rehearse for Semana Santa and look forward to it, long in advance.

You have to see it to really believe it. But no, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Sevilla in Semana Santa. Not unless you are open-minded, empathetic and…a real fan of huge crowds!

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Words and tears fade away

Perhaps because it’s raining in Sevilla: Today it occurred to me that words and tears have a lot in common. Both can be scarce, powerful and loaded with meaning. On the other hand they can be abundant, corrupt and meaningless.

Words and tears may sometimes flow as continuously and generously as the pouring rain. Yet, they lose all substance when they hit concrete ground, only to eventually evaporate. Even words and tears that break out in a potent storm will not remain visible over time. Mostly, they just simply fade away…

Partly inspired by this song:

Gone Mad with the Wind.

Have you heard the ‘myth’ that the wind can drive you mad? The people who live in Tarifa are supposed to be crazy due to a constant wind known as ‘Levante’.

It hasn’t been scientifically proven. However, many people assert that the wind gives them a headache and makes them feel weak. Others claim it makes them feel angry and sad.

Close you eyes for a second and imagine what it must be like to have strong winds in your face every time you step outside.

I am doing that now and it reminds of those nasty, cold windy-rainy days in England when nature is the enemy and your only protection is a central-heated room…

Or those suffocating, hot summer days in Sevilla when your brain swims in the heat, and clarity is only found in an air-conditioned room.

You see, the concept of “Madness” is relative, and the ultimate question is: How far are our mental and emotional states affected by the weather?

I’m looking outside and I see the palm trees swaying drunkenly. I think I’ll stay inside. Not because of the dull, grey sky of course, but…perhaps I’d do something ‘crazy’?! 😉

El tiempo vuela…like a Ryanair plane? Let’s hope not!

“Dee de le dee de dee de deee. You’ve arrived at another on-time flight”. YES, we’re alive. Everyone claps. Just a few more minutes until we can escape the dirty, bright yellow seats, and the claustrophobia of a typical ryanair (‘reeyanair’ at Sevilla airport…) ‘experience’…

The Spaniards talk loudly about llegando a casita, la comida de mamá y el frío que hace en Inglaterra, whilst the English mutter quietly about tapas, sangría and ‘getting a tan’.

Both are relieved to arrive, forgetting that nearly a WHOLE day has been lost travelling¡¡Qué ganas de llegar!! It’s a day that’s frequently ‘gone’ for us ‘guiris’ and for Spaniards who live abroad.

But when we wish time away it flies faster than a plane from London to Sevilla. In Spain there’s always something to ‘look forward to’. In the next few months: Semana Santa, La Fería de Sevilla, later el horario intensivo… It is great, however, it often gives me the sense that el tiempo vuela.

In England this year, it will be the same: Easter, the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics… Every time I hop on to a plane, it’ll be close to some sort of fecha importante…

So, the next time I am on a flight, I am going to take a deep breath and not wish it away. I am going to try to appreciate every single day for what it is, and not always looking forward to ‘the next thing’. It is an enormous challenge, but I would really like to think that time CAN be a beautiful, galloping horse, and not, as it sometimes becomes, a tacky, accelerated ryanair plane…

Ufff ¡qué frío hace! ¿Estarás acostumbrada, no?

Every time it’s ‘cold’ in Sevilla, I know that at least one person will tell me that I am used to the cold as I am from a cold country. Sometimes I smile and nod as a polite English girl would, and I say, “Pues la verdad es que si”…. The majority of the time I screech “¡Estoy en España porque no me gusta el frío!” I suffer in the cold. My hands turn red-blue-purple, I turn antipática; I am more ‘friolera’ than most Spanish people I know. And I miss some good-old English central-heating. Yet, through the cold chill shines a crisp sun that  reminds me daily of why I am here. Darkness makes me a little sad; the Spanish are very privileged with their glorious climate. So, next time someone tells me I’m acostumbrada al frío, I will say “¡Noooo! Estoy enganchada al sol.”

Sevilla Morning de Niebla

The cream-thick mist swallows a hesitant morning,

The groggy-grey moon tilts, lays on his side.

The day’s taking place without any warning,

The cars race on by like an incoming tide.

There’s a strange shade on today,

there’s an emptiness hard at play.

There’s very little else to say

than, for goodness’ sake,

Wake up world!

Hoy he hecho ‘footing’… ¡Mira como sé unas palabritas en inglés!

Footing is a tranquilo run. It comes from the word ‘feet’, the parts of the body that touch the ground while you bounce (or drag yourself) along. ¿Tiene sentido, no? No. The English word is in fact ‘Jogging’… To ‘lose your footing’ means to lose your balance. For example: “Dave lost his footing when he was jogging…. and he fell flat on his face.”

Espanglis

Espanglis is a vision for those who sit in ‘no man’s land’. An espanglis person can be a guiri who has tasted the forbidden fruits of Spain (sol, playa, tapas, alegría…) or a fan del inglés who sees the promise of the cultura anglosajona. The two need each other at that half-way point. The guiri needs to feel needed and integrated in Spain and the fan del inglés needs the contact with his or her ‘other side’.

Even those 100% convinced of the superiority of lo español are being ‘forced’ to speak English. And you can’t speak a language convincingly without at least empathizing with its culture…

Espanglis is both a comparison of two cultures and a celebration of a hybrid culture in its own right. Now… ¡Vamos a la calle!