Aquí No Hablamos Inglés pt.1
I’m absolutely terrible at this, I know.
It’s been three days since my return from Andalusia and nothing more than the fleeting moments caught on photograph to show for it on the blog.
I would like to say that I’ve excuses, but not really aside from me being in a bit of a writers block and not being quite sure where to start. So in an attempt to remedy such a situation I will invoke the tried and true method of a stream of consciousness narrative structure.
In the week since Kelsey’s arrival to Paris, not only has the weather incredibly turned around as if to say that yes, the month of April would be wet, but May will only be sunshine, but I had also spent many hours awake on exhausted feet and aching joints, pushing forward for a week that was destined to be memorable for one reason or another.
As I may have mentioned before – if not, here I am mentioning it – I was the first in my family to ever travel to Spain. Because Kelsey was/is doing a study abroad in Seville, when she first approached me about possibly coming for a visit to Paris, I thought it a most opportune moment to jump back to Spain with her, as Spain has always been on my ‘Places to Travel’ list (I need to return to see Barcelona) She of course invited me to Spain, and while I am not adverse to travelling alone – indeed I spent most of my time in Madrid alone – it is always more pleasant to have company, or at least someone to receive you.
The first thing was that upon my arrival, it took me a moment for my brain to switch over from French mode into Spanish. For a while I wondered why the words on advertisements were spelled funny and the accents placed all wrong. Of course my French is not fluent, dare I say conversational?, but being subsumed in French culture for as long as I had been, it took a while. (This may or may not have been in part to my lack of sleep upon my arrival to Spain, only to be expounded further into the week)
They have a funny way of talking, in Seville.
They have their dropped vowels and lisps and speak with funny words sometimes. I too of course got laughed for speaking “Mexican”, because it is a misnomer that all Spanish is identical. There are regional dialects and we all understand one another, but it is not the same language, in the way Scottish and American are not the same language. But it was nice for once to talk to people who understood what I was saying, and not have them start to talk to me in English.
For my part I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with Kelsey’s Spanish skills, for as American as her accent is, she speaks absolutely grammatically correct and can explain complicated subjects with fair ease. This of course being a result of her 5 years of Spanish classes. Of course as Irish looking – red hair and all – as she is people would attempt to talk to her in English, but quickly shut up when they realize that her Spanish is infinitely better than their 4th grade English level.
They speak slower, in Seville, and it is an approach to life wholly unlike anything I have ever come across. It is not an exaggeration to say that you literally have to beg them to take your money at the restaurant.
For one, being with Kelsey they know us not to be Spaniards, so they serve us last.
(As in France, tips are factored into the bill, so they don’t care that much.)
When they finally get around to serving us, it is near impossible to get a glass of water, napkin, or salt because you have to ask three waiters who of course nod and say yes but then proceed to do other things, such as wipe down a table at a near empty establishment.
So it’s an “if you want something done right, you must do it yourself attitude” I thought I was bad with my so-called ‘Latin’ time, but I get things done before it comes to the point of sheer absurdity. And so many a time we leave the bill to what we know to be appropriate if we had somewhere to be. Lucky for me, and something that I feel few people in their life get to experience, my arrival in Spain coincided with Seville’s Feria.
A week-long party for the sake of partying – never mind that Spain’s unemployment rate hovers at the 25% mark – it is one of the most marvellous things I have ever witnessed. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of women get dressed up to the nines in their flamenco dresses, as many patterns, colors, cuts, styles, variations as there are fingerprints in this world – no two the exact same – wearing brightly colored flowers in their hairs and strappy showy sandals.
It defies the imagination and I can only hope that you glean a fraction of what it was like to be surrounded by such colors. Seemingly no one goes undressed, although occassionally there are jeans to be spotted, and no woman, be she old, young, thin, fat, looks bad in a Flamenco dress.
The silhuotte of every woman is beautiful in their dresses – a costly dress too, starting at 100 euro – and the men in their suits matching the color of the ties to the dress.
Sadly the women there are shy about having their pictures taken, so I had to be in stealth mode as I tried to catch the dresses because it was so unique.
Throughout the entire week we were drinking wines mixed with carbonated drinks, rebujillo or tinto de verano, which is sort of like a Sangria but not. It’s the sort of refreshing stuff that makes you drunk without knowing it because you can be sipping it and only after the fact – when you wake up at 8 am for a 9 am flight to Madrid with a slight hangover – do you realize the potency of such drinks.
I saw my first bull fight in Seville too. I know it’s now outlawed in Barcelona, but Seville clings tightly to their traditions and what I saw was not at all gory or a massacre. Indeed the bulls live like kings, only the best lives for them before the show, and they are these beautiful black beasts massive and strong that even after facing six stabs in the back they have enough strength to go another 30 minutes with the torrero. It serves as a reminder of everyone’s mortality, but it is a beautiful dance between torrero’s and bull, and even in the killing of the bull it is done gracefully, in a sense, as if to say the show is over and respect must be paid to the bull. In one moment he is in his glory, strength and power and the next he lays down buckling at the knees and passes into the sleep from which one never wakes. In a sense I prefer it to the way mose commercial meat is killed and raised.
Sadly I could not locate where they sold the meat after the fight, for I really would have loved to have some bull meat; as respect to the animal. I hear the tail is quite tasty.
For now however, I have places to be and as such will continue this later in the evening, for there is much more to tell.