Coming Soon: The Heat in Seville

The afternoon sun is omnipresent. The blanket has been thrown off my bed. I can almost smell those evenings when I dive outside into a pool of heat.

The Sevillanos ask me “Conoces Sevilla en agosto?” (Have you ever lived through an August in Seville?) Never mind that this will be my fourth consecutive summer here, I think what they mean to say is, “How can someone so pale and English aguantar (put up with) such heat?”

I am a typical guiri. I love the sun and I solve the ‘heat problem’ with flip-flops, short skirts, sun cream, swimming pools, beach and air-conditioning…However, I must admit, the sleepless nights, heavy head and inability to go for a run until late at night, do get to me.

Before, I was worse. When I was on Erasmus I got stopped by a policeman while I was sunbathing.  I was in my bikini by the river in August, eyes closed, and suddenly I hear, “Rubia, rubia, te has puesto crema??!!” (Blonde girl, have you put sun cream on??)…

How embarrassing! I can safely say I have never done that again, and partly of course, because I’m now a little older and wiser ;).

I digress…The heat will be here by next week. I would like to take this opportunity to think, while I am still able to do so clearly. I would like to reflect, and to consider my plans and aims for the next few months before they slip away in front of my eyes. I would like to be aware that I am living, and not just merely alive. So, hold on please 40 degrees days, I’m not quite there yet.

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The Walk of Shame

In English there is an expression: “The walk of shame”, which would be something like, “El paseo de la verguenza” in Spanish.

The walk of shame is the journey back to your house after staying over at someone’s house… unexpectedly.

The morning after, you return on the same bus as the workers going to work, or the students going to university…

If you are a girl you are still in your high heels, skirt and smudged make-up from the night before. If you are a guy your shirt is hanging out, your trousers are half undone… You look like a mess.

And it’s obvious to everyone on the bus or in the street what you’ve probably done. SHAME on you!

You want to sneak back to your house unnoticed, but suddenly you see your old teacher, your boss, your arch-enemy or your loud, talkative uncle.

During the walk of shame you feel the lowest of the low. But to everyone else it’s hilarious!

And Sevilla this week is full of walkers of shame! 😀

This morning at the bus stop, girls and women in beautiful flamenco dresses stumbled over the road, while boys and men in messy suits hobbled along like drunken old men.

Yet the difference is, there’s nothing shameful about being an all-night “Feria-goer”. The Feria only lasts a week… the walkers of shame are the hardcore ones who really make the most of  it!

In England, with our early everything (lunch, dinner, closing-times), let’s face it – we just ‘ain’t’ capable of regular all-nighters… Shame on us! 😛

Don’ts and Dos for a ‘guiri’ (foreigner) in the Feria de Sevilla

DON’T…

  • Wear chanclas (flip-flops). You will come back with black feet, or maybe even directly tread on some horse poo.
  • Try to dance a Sevillana (the typical flamenco dance of the feria) when you’ve no idea, just because you’ve had a few rebujitos (manzanilla wine with lemonade)…
  • Go if you don’t know anyone who has a caseta (marquee-type-thing). All the decent ones are private!
  • Spend too much time in la calle del infierno. It’s called the hell street for a reason.
  • Wear a mini-skirt if you are going to go on the rides. Or if you do, at least don’t wear your Hello Kitty pants that day…
  • Be deceived by the small size of the rebujito glass. You might be used to pints, but I can assure you no tiene nada que ver – it’s stronger than beer!
  • Buy a toffee apple. Just don’t do it. It’s stickier than you think! After that first bite your teeth will never be the same again.
  • Expect to bop up and down to Lady Gaga. You’ll be lucky to get a flamenco version of the Macarena! This is the Feria, miarma! ¡Olé!

DO…

  • Say you “conoce a Pepe” (know Pepe) to get into any private caseta. There’s always a Pepe! 😉
  • Wear a suit if you’re a man and a traje de flamenco if you’re a woman. That way you won’t stand out so much… or you will be the “guiri gracioso/a” of the group.
  • Learn to dance Sevillanas before the Feria. It’s hot when a guiri knows how to dance, and cute if you have a dignified go at it…
  • Mira al de al lado (copy the person next to you) if you haven’t learn the moves but you really, really want to join in!
  • Remember, to move those arms as a true gitana (gypsy): “Take the apple, eat the apple and throw it away”…
  • If you know enough Pepes, change caseta from time to time. It’s a great excuse to catch up with friends, to meet people and to divertirte in a random kind of way! 😀
  • Eat Jamón and Tortilla, and drink rebujito! ¡Claro que sí!

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!

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:

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!