May 2005 Farewell Sevilla

 

Well, it’s almost over. Here in Sevilla we have survived another Semana Santa (Holy Week), Feria and the Festival of Rocio has just come to an end. Where has the time gone? What a winter!

 November found us in Arizona with Ellen’s mother thoroughly enjoying the house along with our own “happy mess” as we descended on her and began to accumulate boat supplies for our return to Spain. It was like being on a massive six -week scavenger hunt as we collected hundreds of seemingly random items but all quite necessary to continue voyaging. Sitting on the porch of our house in Sun City West the temperature was 70 degrees and the windows were open. We really enjoyed our visit this year, NO MOVES, NO BIG PROJECTS! The weather in Arizona is very much like Spain so we felt right at home but boy were we busy having fun! We took 6 hours of Spanish every week, swimming, paddle tennis, doctors, dentists and parties.

Our return to Sevilla came just before Christmas. This Christmas we added a Rat ornament to our Christmas tree in honor of our dear departed friend Rochefort. We wish him well! We had the extreme good fortune to be invited into the home of Tonia and Antonio for Christmas Eve dinner followed by Midnight Mass.  The musical accompaniment for Misa Regalo was not with an Organ or Brass but Guitars and Castanets; Flamenco style.

 

Christmas without family is just not Christmas. A Celebration before la Misa Regalo with Hidalgo family. Oh Yes, Spanish women really do play castanets!

 And of course there was New Year’s Eve. Again we accepted the gracious invitation of Dolores and Jose along with their son Ricardo who is a world renowned Artist and Sculptor.  Both Christmas and New Year’s Eve were special and wonderful family experiences. New Year’s Eve presented the challenge of downing twelve grapes with each of the chimes at midnight; quite a feat, especially after all that food. As the last grape disappeared the fireworks began and the whole town turned into a war zone. We thought we knew what hospitality was untilwe experienced  Spain.

 

Dear Friends Dolores and Jose Suarez and son Ricardo, world renown Spanish painter and sculptor.

In February we flew to Sunny Germany and even sunnier Austria. Yeah, Right! The main purpose of our trip was to visit Ellen’s Cousins Werner and Ingrid in Frankfurt but this year was the added bonus of visiting our former music student Sarah Schunorth and her new husband Ajmal in Koblenz. She is now Dr. Sarah Omar MD and expecting her first child this spring. Just yesterday she was in the eighth grade giving us arguments. Where have all the years gone?

With Werner and Ingrid we made a cross-country road trip from Frankfurt to Vienna and met for the first time yet MORE of Ellen’s European cousins in the 12th Century town of Freystadt.

As in all European towns, Freystadt has it’s own Brewery which was the main employer of those who lived there. Trudi and Gunter’s house enjoys a special status with the Brewery. All houses that were built to serve the brewery all those years ago were granted “Free Beer Forever!” Each year they are given an allotment of free beer (400liters / year). Not bad! Neither was the beer!


 

For those of you who have plans to visit Germany and Austria for Schnitzel, forget it! We ate it ALL! Between Figlmuller”s in Vienna and Valentine’s in Frankfurt, it’s all GONE! The friendship was indeed warm and friendly but it was definitely a sub-zero experience, especially Vienna!

 

Can’t decide which type of schnitzel? Valentine offers the “Sampler Platter of each one!

 For the balance of the winter things settled down to a dull roar. Entr’acte is absolutely ready for a major ocean voyage so we are back to writing and video production. Our big project is to condense the 7 hours of Fred’s video memories down to a one-hour show to be published some time in the future. It’s great to be in one place so we can give this project our full attention. Thanks to Macintosh technology, we have a full video production facility on board, “MGM in a box,” and all the electricity we need so we could work all day and party all night.

 

High above Sevilla!  Ed works on Spanish racer Habibi!

The boats at the club this year are quite varied; Holland, Sweden, England, Germany, Belgium, Spain and have course two American. Communicating is in quite a mixture of languages and we are no longer certain just what language WE speak! When you first meet someone you automatically speak Spanish and only after a week you discover that you both share English as a native language. It’s always good for a laugh.

In Sevilla there is always a party before the “real” party begins and this year’s Semana Santa began with a bang one week before. One evening we went into the club bar and asked our friend Jose for directions to Iglesia de San Gonzalo. He gave us a strange look and the question “Why do you want to go there?” We mentioned that there was a “very important” Semana Santa concert this evening. He also told us that he knew of no such concert and added “Come with me, I am going that way. I take you.” Well he was not only going that way but San Gonzalo was his church he was a Manegetero (“Mr. Big”) with the paso of the Virgen de San Gonzalo. He was so impressed that we knew about the concert that he and Dolores adopted us and became our hosts for the entire Semana Santa AND the coming Feria.

 The word “intense” is perhaps the only way to describe this year’s Semana Santa experience.

 


Virgen de San Gonzalo enters the church. Weight-- 5,090 Kilos! That is heavier than Entr’acte. Exactly the size of the opening, they have to squat to make it fit.

We spent an entire week chasing Virgens around Sevilla and saw every paso at least once and some more than that! The game is to plant yourself at a good spot and watch the procession pass by then run like crazy down all the back streets, avoiding the tie ups from the other pasos and try to get ahead of the original one to see it a second time. Then, down more back streets to connect with another group at a key location. We found streets and plazas in Sevilla that the Sevillianos didn’t even know about.

During one such episode we carried on very nice conversation with one of the locals as he and his wife explained the history of the coming paso. Despite the noise of the crowd, the music and the drums we found that we could understand each other quite well. After about an hour it suddenly became very quiet and we discovered that our friend could in fact neither hear nor speak! We had been reading each other’s lips and body language the entire time! They were both very amused by the situation. We all laughed and continued on as before.

We also witnessed “The Miracle of San Gonzalo.” While we marched behind the Paso of the Virgen each time the paso would stop to rest the “Aguadors” (water boys) would dispense water from plastic jugs into metal cups and give it to the costaleros (paso carriers) underneath as well as those of us accomanying the paso. Just before we arrived at the church and the end of the procession they again offered us a drink as well. It was no longer water but red wine. Just a moment before we had taken a photo and video of them pouring clear water out of a clear jug and as I looked in surprise the clear jug now contained a RED liquid.  “El Milagro! Verdad!” (A miracle, Truly!) Another good laugh.

 Semana Santa is a family affair. No it’s not the KKK.  Here is Manegetero Jose Suarez (honor guard) and his son Ricardo the Costalero (paso bearer).


Again, how does one describe Feria? This year we danced more the first night than we did all of last year. We attended the 33rd Concurso de Jamon, a contest of 25 different hams. Our vote went for numero dos! Thanks to our hosts Jose and Dolores went to so many more casetas this year. They were all so different; different music, different food, different art. There was Classical Flamenco, Modern Flamenco, Country Flamenco and of course, the Sevillana in abundance! 

                                                                                        

Opening night of Feria. Eat, party and dance for a week.

One evening Jose came to us and told us that the band complemented the caseta host because the Americanos (how did they know?) danced the Sevillana so well. He said that it was a real honor for the owner of the caseta to receive such a complement. What did we think of that?

 “If they think our dancing is good just give me shot at that Cajon (box) he’s playing.” He looked surprised.

 “You think you can play la caja? The rhythms are very difficult.”

Less than a minute later, Ed is on stage playing one of the most fascinating percussion instruments he has ever seen and heard. The caseta went nuts! Both Jose and our host just beamed.

 “Not for me. I KNOW I can play la caja!”


 Eduardo plays the Caja and brings down the house! A fascinating instrument!

 “How long have you been playing el Cajon?”

 “Oh, about 10 minutes!”

 Word spread like a fire and each time we entered a caseta the buzz was not only about the Americans who danced but also “El Americano toca la caja mejor!”

 Our dance teacher Don Federico was even more impressed. I explained that my drumming had better be better than my dancing or I would have starved my whole life! He invited us to come to his caseta to dance (last year he never even mentioned that he had a caseta We decided that we must have received a passing grade in his class. Elena danced with el Profesor and Eduardo danced with his wife, all under the scrutiny of the other members of the caseta. Dancing there was like a graduation ceremony.

For three weeks we were out until 5:00 A.M.

 

Cruising is great for children! Alicia Gomez from the French yacht Maestro at six years old can do all four dances of the Sevillana and speak three languages fluently.

The food was outrageous in every respect. In addition to the dancing, there were carriage rides around Sevilla in full Flamenco dress and of course, the national symbol of Spain, Bull Fight! The Spanish partied us into the ground. Try as we might, we failed to keep up the pace.

 

                                                                        

     Daytime at Feria is about horses and carriage rides.                           Feria officially begins the Bull fight season.

 

                                                                         

Dolores y Elena and “the girls from the office”—Celia y Salud.             Friends from Club Nautico. Jose, Jose Antonio and Dolores.


Feria ended with the usual fireworks spectacle and week two weeks later the Festival of Rocio was to begin.

As Feria came to an end it became painfully obvious that if we wished to see Freddy one last time it would have to be now. Things were drawing to their ultimate and inevitable conclusion. We made a sudden trip to Canada to visit our dear friend. Just a few days after we returned to Sevilla he took a major downward turn. As we write this chapter he is at home under major sedation for pain and in the care of Hospice International.

The festival of Rocio came and went. It is a combination of Semana Santa and Feria combined but on a much smaller scale. Every year more than 100,000 persons make the pilgrimage and walk some 60 km (35 miles)from Sevilla to the village of Rocio and back!. We confess to all, we took the bus and stayed for only one day at Rocio. We did manage to attend the Festival of Corpus Christi one more time but it is sadly time to say farewell to the city we love so much.

As we write this we are prepared and stocked up for a return to Sea.  Entr’acte is poised for a departure scheduled for the first week in June. Entr’acte is amply protected from rodents by a rubber scorpion in the bilge, a rubber alligator in the engine room and a rubber snake under the stove. There are those who say it won’t work but last week we forgot that they were aboard and when we were cleaning the engine room the gator sure scared the heck out of us! We have received word from “Bahama Norm” (see Bahama Chapter) that he and Ellie will be traveling Europe with family this summer and are coming to Sevilla for a few days. We will remain here until they arrive to show them the city and then, sadly, be on our way.

In this lifestyle there is always a danger in returning to a place you enjoyed so much in the past. You open yourself up to great disappointment. In the case of Sevilla our return here twenty years later was even better than the first time. There is just no way possible to describe the love and friendliness we found in Sevilla. This story could go on forever so we will close this chapter with a few random photos of the people we love.

As always,the first person you meet anywhere usually sets the tone. 

                                                                                                                                           

              Our dear, dear friend Juan,                                                       The Marineros of El nautico take a lunch break.

             ”Tenente Colombo!  Senor Personalidad!”                                         


                                                                         

 Sara and Ulf.  No Matter where we went in Spain, once you mentioned Sara’s name all doors were open to you.

 

            

The Yachts of Club Nautico Ellen, Martine, Michel, Klaus, Christina, Ed and Javier. What a group of madmen! Women too!!!

By the time you read this Entr’acte will be back at sea on her way to new adventures. The present plan is the same a last year’s. We will, hopefully head out to the Azores for the summer then on to Madeira, Canaries Cape Verde and across to the Caribbean, Central America and on to Panama and the Pacific. As always, plans of sailing ships are firmly written in Jello and always subject to change.

 Stay tuned for news of further roamings.

 Elena Y Eduardo