- Category: Spain Writings 2007
- Written by Marianna
More photos (of events described below) have been uploaded HERE.
Monday June 11, 2007
I can’t believe I haven’t written since June 7. I guess it is only three days, but it seems like a long time.
Thursday night I went to dance class. Lakshmi came with me and formally introduced me to Pilar. In class that night Pilar was having us do some excessively jumpy things and I said I am too old for that, I am sixty-two. The whole class was having trouble with the step. So first she had her young niece Alegrías do it. Alegrías complained and wanted to do the easier step she already did well, but Pilar made her do the current step. Next she made me do it (in my non-jumping way). She said to the class, “and she is sixty-two”, questioning me to make sure she had heard right. In Spain women look much older than they do in the US. Then she had each person do the step alone. About half way through, she told someone to use their hips with it. Then it all made sense and I was able to do it much better after that. I am by far the oldest dancer in the class and it is fun. We worked on turns, which I did much better and Pilar again complemented me several times.
I realize that although I don’t like doing the fast, fancy footwork, my sense of compás and upper body and my long experience with Flamenco give me an advantage. It helps me to really enjoy and to “get” what I am learning.
Friday I ran around Sevilla again. First I picked up the camera. Like the many teenagers I see in Sevilla, I had earphones in my ears and my ipod in my purse. I was singing with Juan, practicing from the singing classes I had recorded earlier. It was fun and made the walk seem much shorter. From the camera repair store, I walked to Calle Relator (in the Calle Feria district). I arranged a whole list of food to be catered by Ana y Alfonso’a bakery. Ana was lovely and the food smelled good. I hadn’t heard from La Carboneria yet, so I arranged to call the bakery before 8:00 PM to confirm. I had spoken with Sergio, one of Paco Lira’s sons, who thought it would be fine to hold the party at La Carboneria. He had me talk to Marcos, whom I didn’t know and who said that we couldn’t bring food. Marcos then had me talk to Maria Jose whom I did know and who was going to ask Pisco for me. I was sure it would work out. We have celebrated there before (see other Spain Chronicles) and brought food, as they don’t serve food, only small tapas that are not very good. These people had known us since 1999 when we started to live at La Carboneria as guests of Paco Lira, the owner.
By this time I was near Juan and Lucy’s so I called them and stopped over to visit. I was supposed to have a class with Juan at 1:00 PM. But Juan had a little cold and had already called Freddie to cancel. Freddie was in a Spanish class with Lakshmi.
During my walk I received a message on my mobil from Maria Jose saying that we could not use the patio for the fiesta and it was not OK to bring food to the Carboneria. I couldn’t believe it so I had Juan and Lucy listen to the message and they confirmed it. Juan was furious. The Carboneria has certainly changed since Paco Lira got sick and the control passed to his children.
After that, Lucy decided to go with me to Bar Manué. I needed to find a place before 8 PM because I had a dance class with Pilar at 8 PM and I needed to confirm the food. Lucy and I had tapas at Bar Manué and found out that starting this Sunday they were closing on Sundays. So they were out. We thought about trying to talk to la Carboneria in person, but it was nearing siesta and no one would be there and there wouldn’t be time that evening. In Spain, you talk to people in person, not over the phone like I tried to do. I might have had success if I had gone in person, but I didn’t want to spend my time in Spain doing that.
Lucy and I came back to our house and wondered if we could fit 20 people into our small apartment. We happened to talk to Diana and Delia who said that our rental contract would not permit it. They were adamant. They suggested a Middle Eastern restaurant but again, we would have to go there and check it out and it was outside on Menendez Pelayo, a busy and somewhat ugly main street. We decided that we didn’t have time and didn’t want to have a fiesta on a dirty, ugly main street.
Lucy then suggested Bar Pelicano in the Plaza Pelicano and we made arrangements to meet there after Pilar’s class, which is very near that plaza. Then Freddie and I went out for tapas and came back and took a nap. I called the bakery and reluctantly canceled our order because we had no place for the party.
At 7:30 I left for Pilar’s class and loved it again. I got more complements and felt great. After class Lucy and I met and planned a menu with Bar Pelicano. It was finally worked out and they said we could bring a cake. They suggested inside, which turned out to be good because it rained over the weekend. Outside, our party would have seemed more open to the public. Two dancers from Pilar’s class, Sara and Yuko who are also friends of Lucy’s, joined us at Pelicano. I had arranged earlier to get my Sevilla Updates IV printed at Cihtli and Ethan’s, so I needed to stop there on the way home. We all walked there together, but Cihtli and Ethan were in a nearby plaza eating tapas with a friend of Cihtli’s from London, so we went there and joined them. Sara and Yuko are also students of Cihtli’s.
Earlier Ethan had invited us to an all night festival in Los Cabezas, near Lebrija and had reserved a hostel for us. Freddie wasn’t up for it and Sara and Yuko wanted to go, so I told them they could have our hostel reservation. After tapas we went to Cihtli and Ethan’s and watched the DVD that they made of Miguel Funi. It will be included with the CD that Ethan is putting out. He is preserving an important legend of Flamenco and I think this CD and DVD will be important collector’s items. We are all lucky to have this Flamenco documented. Ethan printed my pages. Lucy went home earlier to check on Juan, who had to work that evening and was sick. Sara and Yuko and I walked to Plaza San Marcos and then they went one way and I the other. Cihtli had made me call her when I arrived home. It was one AM. Being Friday night, there were lots of people out and the walk was quite safe and easy. The night was still balmy.
Freddie and I slept 10 hours again and were glad we weren’t going out for an all nighter on Saturday night.
Saturday morning Pilar and Soleá took us to the Gypsy market that we had gone to in 2003. It is mainly Gypsy’s selling things, along with Africans in their beautiful dress and Indians (from India). It is very colorful. I bought another little dress for Josephine, who will be one on June 22. We mainly bought food – olives and caricoles (snails), yerba Buena (mint), tomatoes, spices and garlic and onion and cherries. Freddie bought Pilar and me blouses and Soleá got a sweet ice drink. We had arrived late, so we didn’t have a lot of time before the vendors started packing up. It also started to rain. Then we came home and Pilar taught me how to cook the caricoles. By then it was raining hard with thunder and lightening but it stopped later, by the time Pilar and Soleá were ready to leave. The weather patterns are unusual here in Spain as they seem to be in other parts of the world as well.
After Pilar and Soleá left, Freddie and I took a siesta around six or seven o’clock. We woke up around ten PM and then I went back to sleep again!
Sunday on our anniversary and Freddie’s birthday, Juan gave us a cante class and a guitar class. Then Lakshmi came over. She had bought us two cakes for the party. She and I cooked some food and then she left. Freddie and I took a siesta.
After several phone calls coming in about the party, we got up and got ready. Lakshmi met us part way and helped me push the chair. Bar Pelicano had set up a fancy, long table for 20 people. At the last moment Diana, Delia, Toshi and Delia’s cousin couldn’t come, and Carlos Heredia’s mother started having more strokes so they couldn’t come. And Pilar’s mother couldn’t come because her legs were too swolen, and Concha’s daughter Carmen and niece Conchita were too teenager-tired to come, so there were less of us. But we ate all the food, except for the cakes and some pimientos.
We had a wonderful party. Luis Agujeta and Manuela and the baby came. We had Juan and Lucy, Paco, Pilar and Solea, Lakshmi, Cihtli and Ethan, Jill, Concha, Curro (Concha’s younger son who has grown into a man) and Frasqui, Ricky Diaz, and Luisito. The food was delicious and the company even better.
Cihtli and Ethan walked us home, Ethan pushing the chair the chair easily over the rough stone streets of Sevilla.
This evening Freddie went to dance class with me. I pushed him there and we saw Pilar (of the Farrucos, the dance teacher) sitting at a table in the Plaza. I introduced Freddie to her and got permission for Freddie to watch the class. “Claro”, she said (certainly). Then we continued on from Plaza Pelicano to the studio, over the rough, large cobblestones, navigating the holes and dips. When we arrived La Farruca was almost finishing her class and came out to go to the bathroom. I asked her if Freddie could watch the end of her class and of course he could. So he did.
Freddie loved the classes. It is like a sauna in the small studio and I sweat buckets. Again Pilar complimented me several times and once more referred to my age in an admiring way, when someone else complained about doing the “hard jumping step” that I was doing, although just barely.
Another nickname that I forgot to mention is the name Pilar has for Mayonaisa’s friend. She calls her Mostoza, “Mustard”.
On the way home Freddie pushed his wheelchair almost to Plaza los Terceros before he sat down and I took over. He also walked to Plaza los Terceros this morning without the wheelchair or a crutch when we went to have drinks with Ricky Diaz.
We almost had one catastrophe here. A number of days ago Freddie had a lot of blood in his stool. I figured that it was because he wasn’t eating enough greens so I fed him kale and green pills and he got better.
I was going to stop his coumadin for a day but I forget. Then the blood returned and was bad for three days although I was giving him kale and green pills again. I stopped the coumadin for two nights, just like the anticoagulation center in Santa Cruz had had me do when his blood was too thin at home. They had told him to eat green leafy vegetables then too.
We planned to go to the hospital this morning. I had visions of the other time he went to the Spanish hospital. In America I would have called a doctor sooner. Here, I don’t trust the medical system. I woke up this morning thinking of all the things I had to pack, his medication lists and prescription lists and insurance card and something for me to do while waiting. I felt like my vacation was over and a sense of dread was building. Then Freddie woke up and said, “I am better”. The blood had stopped. We have been eating salads like mad and I gave him only one coumadin this evening. I have to be more vigilant about his food because he loses track. He had cut out his coffee for the last few days in case it was an ulcer. But of course he had some coffee today and tonight because he was “better”. We also had a big salad before class although we finished the birthday cake after class!
I made Freddie a CD of some of Juan’s guitar classes and he practiced for an hour this afternoon while I slept. His guitar is coming along. I love it.
And it was so much fun to go to dance class with him. Now it’s time to take a shower and think about sleeping. I hope he is still OK tomorrow morning.
Tuesday June 13, 2007
Lakshmi danced for the first time at a restaurant or club on the outskirts of Sevilla. She invited us to come. Not knowing what was really about to happen, we declined the offered lunch but came to the show at six pm. We had invited Paco and Pilar but they didn’t feel like coming. I had also called Concha and she said she would meet us there after she left her class, went home and showered and ate, which meant she would be late. I did find out that from Concha, as I had already suspected, that it was the club to which we had been invited by her friend, the owner of the bar where Rafael works. I still thought that we were going to a show that was open to the public and that anyone could go.
It wasn’t. It was a private fiesta given by the bar owner, Concha’s friend. They hire artists who perform for other artists. Most of the audience were also major Flamenco figures, but older than the performers. Performing there were two fabulous and moving young male singers from Jerez and Moron, Lakshmi and another dancer, Rocio, and Mari Peña who is very wonderfully pregnant, dressed in white lace. Mari sang beautifully as always. She is one of my favorite living singers. Her baby boy will be born in October, around the 15th. Antonio Moya, her husband, played guitar along with another man. Then there was another middle-aged Gypsy woman singer too, Ermiña.
But the audience participated more than the performers. My idol, Manuel Molina, dressed in soft white, with white streaks in his full black beard, a gold guitar bracelet around his wrist, sang and played guitar, singing as if he were praying, which of course he was. He is the poet Flamenco singer who spouts poetry in his songs and sings with such pure emotion that your eyes well up with tears. He was there and he greeted us, and he sat next to me for half of the show. When he got up to sing, he sang his heart out and sometimes accompanied himself on guitar.
Concha Vargas got up and danced an incredible Bulerías. Curro Fernandez and his wife Pepa Vargas sang. Pepa Montes danced and her husband Ricardo Miño played beautiful guitar. Curro Vargas played guitar. Javelito and his girlfriend Fabi danced and sang. We couldn’t have asked for more. We were there on both invitation of the owner and of Lakshmi. Although we came after the meal, there was still wonderful food like jamon and cheese and grilled beef, and crackers and bread and wine, beer, whiskey, coke, --almost anything you can think of to drink, was offered. We were sorry we had declined the lunch at 3:00 PM. If I had realized what it was I would have accepted. Instead we had wonderful classes with Juan at home and he cooked us a Puchero.
This private fiesta that we were lead to, it was all given by the bar owner and we were all the guests in addition to the paid artists. I felt so honored. Here we were among so many Flamenco greats. And we were amazed when we realized how many people there we knew and who welcomed us with kisses and warm smiles.
As we walked up the wide marble stairs to the upstairs and into a huge room, we felt as if we had been transformed, as if we had entered a magical Flamenco world of food, drink, art and laughter. There were many of the top “figuras” of Gypsy Flamenco, all in one room and everyone feeling good and comfortable and like singing, dancing, and playing guitar. We knew many of them. And we felt that we were welcomed like royalty! Mari Peña said, “This house is your house”. Then the bar owner told us the same thing and to eat and drink what we wanted. Both Concha’s sisters were there, Pepa and Esperanza. Of course Concha, Rafael and Curro we already seen on this trip and they were there too. Pepa’s husband, Curro Fernandez was there. They are Paco’s parents. Javierlito and Fabi we have already visited with and written about. Pepa Montes and her husband Ricardo Miño and their son I had already met in California. After seeing Pepa Montes dance in Mountain View, I took her workshop the next day and the day after in San Francisco and loved both classes. Javierlito and Mari and Antonio all stayed at our home when Freddie was still in the hospital with his stroke. And of course all these people greeted us with Spanish kisses.
Manuel Molino is someone we haven’t hung out with and had just missed being at a party with him once that Concha wanted to take us to after the El Moreno Homenaje a few years ago. But we have been near each other enough for him to greet us with the traditional Spanish kisses when we walked in the door. Later he sat and sang with a hand on Freddie’s leg. I have always looked up to his poetic spirit and I have always wanted to meet him. I didn’t really talk to him much. I was too awestruck. When Concha arrived she introduced us and Manuel said that he already knew us. I was in heaven. He is one of my few idols.
So what could be more Flamenco than the night we just spent. It was perfect. Later the young ones were going on to a bar in Triana where one of the singers had gone to work. Rafael was already asleep in the car, waiting for us. He has to get up very early to go to work. At the end, Concha, Freddie, and I woke Rafael and he drove us home. Concha and I were both exclaiming how we couldn’t stay up all night anymore, although we both wish we still could! Freddie agreed. It would be nice to have that energy and resilience of youth again.
I also saw again that Flamenco was not lost in this coming generation. Watching Curro Vargas play guitar and Javi and Fabi singing and dancing and Lakshmi dancing at the end of the night, I knew that there were young pure Flamencos and that they will keep the pure Flamenco alive. They are all wonderful artists and are carrying on the old style of Flamenco. And Antonio and Mari are fairly young too. I know that Curro has studied guitar with Antonio. Curro plays very well now. It is still so strange to see him as a man instead of a little boy. He is tall like Rafael his father, and has a wide face like Concha his mother and long shoulder length black curly hair and a bit of a beard. We have known him eight years, since he was twelve.
I don’t think anyone wanted to leave, but us older ones started to leave first. What a night. When I got home I lightly ran through the Bulerías I am learning from Pilar and to my amazement I actually danced it, giving it my own interpretation and style. And it was fun. And I realized that I needed to do it my way in class and have her correct that. It should be fun because they are fun moves and the pattern is nice. I have figured out some ways to make sense of the new moves that feel awkward. Hope it lasts when I put Flamenco shoes on.
Wednesday June 13, 2007
Time is flying. We went with Paco and Pilar to rent a car to go to Malaga on Saturday. Paco is playing in a festival there and we don’t know Malaga. Lakshmi called and said that the best part of last night was at the fiesta that we were all at. Nothing much happened at the bars that the young ones went to later. She got home around four AM. She will give Freddie another Spanish lesson after she gets back from Concha’s class.
People last night were amazed to find out that Lakshmi was American. They all thought she was Spanish. I think she made some good dance contacts last night, as of course people were blown away by her fabulous dancing. Freddie and I sure feel like her second parents!
Lakshmi came over and we ate most of Juan’s puchera, the garbanzo stew dish that he made yesterday. Freddie was tired and hurting, so he didn’t have his Spanish lesson today. He might have one later tonight if Lakshmi comes by after rehearsal.
I went to Pilar’s class tonight and as usual I loved it. I ran into Curro Vargas (Concha’s son), who had just played for La Farruca’s class, which was right before Pilar’s. Of course last night, when I wasn’t in class, Pilar had given a lot more of the Bulerías steps than she had for a while, so I had to pick them up quickly, which I did. She had everyone do the new part solo and I did it right! People clapped. Little Manué (Manuel, la Farruca’s son, Farruquito’s little brother) was in class again, helping to teach it. He is nine years old, but small and very wise, with an impish smile. He is already an incredible dancer who dances with “arte”. He has flashing eyes and a wide grin, full of innocence. And he is already a good teacher. His sister, Alegrías, is only seven or eight, but she is bigger than he is. His nickname is “Carpeta”.
I ended up signing up for the whole month of classes, instead of paying by the week, as I had started. I am committed to her dance classes.
Thursday June 14, 2007
We did it again! I just changed our tickets to return on July 20. Everything went so smoothly. We only had to pay 30 euros/person on the Sevilla to Madrid flights. That gives me a few days after I return to California before I take off for NY to visit Elun and Josephine (Donna will be away). Two months here was just not enough for either of us. So that means I won’t start teaching my dance classes again until August. I’ll probably start after Concha’s classes, unless people want me to start before.
I feel so excited and happy.