A Rose by Any Other Name


It’s another holiday in Spain (or, more precisely, it is several holidays in Spain).  Since 1987, the first holiday has been called Fiesta Nacional de España, but it began to be observed in 1935 as Dia de la Hispanidad (Day of the Hispanicity), which didn’t become an official national holiday until 1981.


The Dia de la Hispanidad was created to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus’s pillaging of (excuse me) landing in the New World, which means it’s Columbus Day.

It is also the Day of the Armed Forces, which is, I am told, usually commemorated with a military parade in Madrid.  Other than that, there’s not a lot of fanfare or flag-waving because it’s all overshadowed by another feast day, the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Day of Our Lady of the Pillar), the patron saint of Spain.

As a matter of fact, two different people told me yesterday that today was a national holiday.  Neither person told me about Fiesta Nacional, Christopher Columbus, or the Armed Forces.  They both told me it was the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

This morning at around 8, after Jerry and I had decided to snuggle comfortably in bed for another couple of hours, we heard chanting and voices outside.  Once we completed our muttering about the noise, we realized what it was and opened the shutters and doors to the wonderful fragrance of incense and to see another paso in the street below as it headed for the Convent of Santa Rosalía.


Three hours later, the procession was much larger and included a 50-piece band (Jerry counted) for the return march from the Convent of Santa Rosalía to the Brotherhood of Vera Cruz (about 3 blocks away).  I have great video of the procession and the music, but I haven’t been able to convert the video to a format that will open on my Mac (without having to download new software).  So, you’ll have to trust me that the band was very good.  I wonder if they’re available 29 February 2012 for the first quadrennial Procesión de San Geraldo.


El Procesión de San Geraldo

Jerry is a human being filled with inconsistencies.  It is one of the many traits that makes him so especially interesting (i.e., never boring) to me.

He is a perfectionist, precise and careful in all he does.  Except when he’s not.

He is masterful with words and language.  Except when he’s covering all his ducks or getting all his bases in a row.

And he is extremely outgoing, charming, and social.  Except when he wants to hole up at home for days on end and not have to speak to anyone.

So, given the added challenges he faces currently (and temporarily) with a lack of skills to communicate intelligently in Spanish, it’s no surprise that he some days would just prefer to stay home.

Yesterday, Jerry went to the pharmacy and did well in communicating that he needed to refill some prescriptions.  The pharmacist asked him a question in rapid-fire local dialect.  He thought he understood and, pointing to his head, said he was sorry but he couldn’t remember.  “Un momento,” he said, as he searched his wallet for the business cards I made up containing all our pertinent information.  He showed the card to the pharmacist and pointed to his phone number. The pharmacist laughed and explained that she had asked for his name (nombre) and not his number (numero).  She also told him that she had been a bit concerned when she thought he didn’t remember his name.

So, Jerry has suggested that he might like to become a recluse.  Initially, he said I could “roll him out” once a year just like the locals roll out the statues of Jesus and the multitudes of Virgins.  He suggested that I find at least a dozen very sturdy men to hoist him up, carry him downstairs, and then haul him around town for a couple of hours before hauling him back upstairs.  Of course, he wants to be accompanied by a large band of musicians.  He said I’ll just need to go around in advance to put up posters.

When he told Margarita his idea, she thought it was hilarious and suggested the event be called “El Procesión de San Geraldo.”  Margarita asked if Jerry had selected a date for his annual procession.  He then decided he did not want to have to be “processed” every single year.  So, he suggested Leap Year.  He thought 29 February would be ideal.  He would then only have to be hauled out and dusted off once every four years.

I just looked it up and Jerry is going to be very disappointed to learn that Leap Year is coming up.  He’s going to have to leave the house again in a little over four months.  So, watch for the posters.  The first Quadrennial Procesión de San Geraldo will occur 29 February 2012.


Life in a Bottle


We went out for dinner Thursay night with Margarita.  She led us to a tapas bar in a plaza we had never seen before.  This was surprising considering that in my aimless as well as my purposeful wanderings I have been all around the streets surrounding the plaza and never stumbled upon it.  Originally, Margarita had been aiming for a tapas bar on Plaza San Salvador.  I know that plaza.  The Church of San Salvador is the second largest church in the city (after the cathedral).  It was built on the remains of a 9th century mosque and began to be used as a parish church in the 13th century.


There is a bar across the plaza that I have noticed is always booming in the evening and late at night, filling the plaza to overflowing with people.  As we turned the corner onto the plaza you could hear the buzz of revelers.  Margarita immediately said, Oh, no. We’ll go around the corner to someplace quieter.  No need to try and have dinner in the botellón, she said.  A botellón (a big bottle) is a phenomenon that began in Andalucia in the 1980s as a way for workers to enjoy a cheap drink outdoors without paying the expensive (at the time) bar prices.  It has evolved into a popular activity for young adults.  The crowds looked mostly to be in their early 20s.  So, the mobs I always see in this plaza are not only the overflow from the popular bar.


We headed out of the plaza and around the corner to a smaller plaza.  To Margarita’s consternation, it looked like another botellón.  Mobs of people stood everywhere.  The tapas bar she was headed for sat right next to the crowd and had lots of empty tables.  We didn’t know if people were waiting to be seated.  Margarita walked up to the host and asked and he laughed and said the tables were all available.  The crowd was simply overflowing the patio from the bar next door.  So, this was not a botellón.  It was just a popular bar.


We sat at a table and proceeded to enjoy yet another incredible tapas meal in Sevilla. We passed back through Plaza San Salvador and a now even larger mob.  But, except for a guy peeing against a wall in a side alley, there was no unpleasant or rowdy behavior.  Of course, botellónes continue until the wee hours of the morning.  So, there’s no telling what went on once we were snug in our beds.

Lady of Spain, I Adore You

This afternoon, I met Lola and Albert for a drink at their favorite little bar near the Church of the Magdalena.  When I arrived (in my shorts, T-shirt, and sandals) at the usually quiet corner, I was surprised to find a throng of stylishly and elegantly dressed people (all seemingly in their 20s) crowding the tall outside tables.  It was a flamboyance of Spanish style.  They had obviously just come from a wedding.

Jerry and I have commented often on the elegantly dressed women in the city.  Just this morning while having breakfast downstairs at El Sanedrín, we noted couples strolling by on their way to weddings.  Most of the women wear incredible headpieces that I had been calling hats (the type of headpiece sported by so many of the women at the recent royal wedding in London).  We see them in specialty shop windows all over town.  I learned from Albert and Lola today that these playful headpieces are not called hats (sombreros), they are tocados.

I have wanted to snap a picture several times, but have not wanted to offend anyone.  Since, we were all now hanging out at the same bar, and since they all seemed so happy and relaxed, I decided to ask.  Albert commented to one of the well-dressed guys — someone he knows — and he got the attention of his friends.  In Spanish, I told the women that I had never seen such style as I now see among the women of Sevilla and I asked if they would mind if I took a picture.  Not only did not they not mind, they stepped into the plaza and positioned themselves so the sun would be over my shoulder, and they posed for me.  Later, another group posed for one of their friends.  I ran over with my camera and they didn’t hesitate.  Someone had just turned his car down the tiny street.  He came to a stop, blocking traffic, and pulled out his phone to snap a picture as well.  Everyone simply laughed and smiled for the camera.

I love the people of Sevilla!


Learning to Simply Live

It has been challenging for me to comprehend or even contemplate the fact that we now live in Sevilla.  This is not a vacation.  I do not need to “take in the sights” every day.  I can appreciate the sights, I can be surprised by new things, but I do not need to — nor should I — go on a sight-seeing tour every day of the week.  It’s OK to run errands, do laundry, read a book, and just hang around the house every so often.  This may be the toughest thing for me to learn to do.


This morning, I met Lola for breakfast and we spoke Spanish.  That is the new Thursday morning ritual.  We have English Conversation Tuesday and Spanish Conversation Thursday.  We are having a ball learning about each other, our cultures, our families, and our languages.  Albert was there today as well and, as always, he adds wonderful energy, insights, and humor.  He was there for his morning coffee when I arrived Tuesday, but quickly departed so Lola would not feel uncomfortable about using English.

But it’s different on Thursday.  Everyone is welcome as long as they stick to Spanish.  Margarita happened by and joined us for a cup of coffee.  She began to speak English with me, but was quickly informed of the rules.  No English on Thursday (well, we cheat here and there).  Our plan (mine and Lola’s) is to spend an hour together, but we have had such a good time this week that the hour stretches into more.  Tuesday, we spent two hours.  Today, three.

We have already begun to teach each other common idioms as well as silly
and inappropriate expressions in our native languages.  These are, of
course, very important.



We (Jerry) couldn’t get our oven to work (Jerry has been cooking on the range top only).  We both scanned the instruction manual, which is in Spanish, and were convinced the oven needed repair.  However, today while I was off enjoying Spanish Conversation Thursday, Jerry read and translated the entire instruction manual.  On page 62, he discovered that the timer needs to be set for the heat to go on.  Now, how does even someone who reads and understands Spanish know that tidbit without getting to page 62 of the instruction manual? And how many people read entire instruction manuals?

Anyway, we (Jerry) now know how to turn on the oven.  That knowledge really wouldn’t serve much purpose in my cooking-incompetent hands. But I can’t wait to taste what Jerry produces.