- Category: Spain Writings 2007
- Written by Marianna
More photos (of events described here) have been uploaded HERE (or will be soon). We have also revised some of the other albums, so take a look.
Part VIII (last chapter)
Friday July 7, 2007
Freddie and Paco went out for half an hour and came back nearly four hours later. Freddie forgot to bring his keys and his cell phone so I was trapped at home wondering where they were. If I left before Freddie returned, he wouldn’t be able to get into the building without his keys. And I couldn’t even call him. The boys were unreachable. Paco hasn’t replaced the cell phone yet that he lost and Pilar was stuck at her parents’ house waiting for him to pick her and Soleá up because they only have one car right now.
It turns out that that one car has more problems than you can imagine. While Freddie and Paco were out they stopped for something. The car wouldn’t start again because the air conditioning was on and there was a faulty connection. But they didn’t find out why it wouldn’t start until they had bought cables that didn’t work and tried to buy a new battery and found out that theirs was still good. This was in the five o’clock Sevilla heat and having to walk and find taxis –all without a phone and without Freddie’s wheelchair (which they hadn’t thought they would need so they didn’t take). That red Citroen is a sour lemon. They were both exhausted when they arrived back here and felt like they had been through the wars together and survived. Paco felt especially bad for Freddie, who had to push himself physically with the walking. But their friendship deepened through the experience.
This evening after Paco brought Freddie home, the three of us listened to and watched Paco and Esperanza’s performance in Alcalá. This was the tape that Freddie had made last week. I was putting some of it onto DVDs. I can only do about an hour at a time because my computer memory is not big enough for my needs and my extra hard drive won’t take the videos for some reason. So I have dumped everything I can think of onto the external hard drive and just have enough memory to burn one one-hour (approximately) movie at a time. Anyway, we watched the Siguiriyas that Esperanza and Paco did in Alcalá and it is phenomenal, pure Flamenco. Unfortunately Freddie didn’t have the tripod then so it is bumpy, but even so, it is incredible. It made us all excited.
Sunday July 15, 2007
We’re home from Cádiz. We left for Cádiz last Sunday. We got back yesterday afternoon, hot and tired. Summer is very hot here in Sevilla. There is a heat wave here.
Just now I finished a cante class with Juan. He is having me dance and sing at the same time, a very difficult exercise that he says that even many Gypsies can’t do. I am marking and doing llamadas in Bulerías while singing. It is a new level. There is always something else to learn, the onionskin with no end!
Tuesday July 24, 2007
I am sitting on an airplane going to Ottawa and then upper New York state (from California) to visit my son, his wife and most important, my thirteen month old granddaughter Josephine. I want to write about our last week in Sevilla now before it fades into the present.
We took the train to Cádiz, wheelchair and all, with Lakshmi, Paco, Pilar and Soleá. It was comfortable and the scenery out the windows was picturesque with hills and old houses and little train stations of the famous pueblos of Flamenco. Lakshmi had been undecided about coming with us, but had decided to stay in Cádiz for at least the day and if she could find lodging maybe longer. The rest of us had reserved rooms in a hotel that Paco had thought would look out onto the beach. We were there for the Cursillo, the Flamenco workshop that Esperanza Fernández (Paco’s sister) and her husband Miguel Vargas had organized.
I planned to take Esperanza’s cante class and perhaps a dance class with Miguel. Freddie was going to take Paco’s guitar class, which we already knew would be too hard for his stroke-affected fingers. Paco said he would work with him separately after class.
We arrived in beautiful Cádiz with its blue ocean and white sands dotted with colorful umbrellas and lots of people. Our hotel was in the plaza with the cathedral. Our hotel room was actually a tiny university dorm room with two single beds next to an identical room where Paco, Pilar and Soleá stayed. It was about a twenty-minute walk from the beach but a five-minute walk from the ocean. Freddie and I ended up sleeping on one little bed in our room and Lakshmi in the other. It’s a good thing Freddie and I still like to sleep close to each other!
The first evening, Sunday, we went to a welcome party at the center where the classes would be held, about a fifteen or twenty minute walk through the narrow cobblestone streets. Paco, Esperanza and Miguel put on a small performance for their students. There were students there from all over the world, including a Japanese woman guitarist, an Italian, a German, and some Americans. This was Esperanza and Miguel’s first Cádiz cursillo (workshop). They plan to make it a yearly event. The press was there and it turned out that they would come everyday, interviewing people and photographing us. The next evening Pilar’s parents saw me interviewed on Spanish television! Other people in Sevilla also saw me on TV! Later my photo was in the local Cádiz newspaper on two different days. The press made it a big deal.
That first evening Miguel talked me into trying all his dance classes, which started in the morning. I took his Cantiñas, Tangos and Bulerías classes that Monday and my feet hurt with all the dancing. He does a lot of footwork. I went to the beach during the midday siesta and I also took an afternoon cante class with Esperanza before the Bulerías dance class. Needless to say, I was exhausted and decided only to continue with his Bulerías class so I could go to the beach in the mornings. After all, I was trying to be on vacation this trip.
Lakshmi pushed Freddie’s wheelchair and helped a lot with Freddie’s care. It was great. Freddie took Paco’s guitar class and realized that he knew all of it in his head but that his fingers wouldn’t work and decided not to continue the classes. We talked Lakshmi into taking the Cante class in exchange for her help and then the Bulerías dance class as well.
Esperanza taught us some wonderful Bulerías. She is an excellent teacher. There were only four of us in the class. The German student, Anya, was a good friend of David and Clara’s and they had shown her a picture of us (on our card) so she had introduced herself to us the first evening. The other student was the Italian woman who was the most knowledgeable of us about singing. I had wanted to take the beginning Cantiñas cante class for dancers, but no one else had signed up for it so I took the Bulerías class for intermediate and advanced singers and felt out of my element. Lakshmi was familiar with the songs Esperanza taught and she did great. Her biggest challenge was to let her voice out, which she finally did. She has a beautiful voice.
My biggest challenge was to remember the tones (melodies). My second was to memorize the words, which was easier than remembering the tones. I was able to imitate Esperanza very well, but when it came time to do it myself I had a hard time remembering how it went!
Later Esperanza made me stop reading the words so that my timing would improve, which it did. Despite all my difficulties, I loved it. Partway through the four days Esperanza saw me wiggling in my seat as I sang and suggested that I stand and maybe dance while I sang. I did and everyone loved it. Esperanza was amazed and kept asking me if I knew how hard it was to do what I did. She said I put everything in the right place. It was my training with Juan that helped me. I have learned a lot from him.
Esperanza called me an artist, as Paco had called me earlier. Years ago, in the 80’s, Anzonini had told Chris Carnes that I was an artist, an “artista”. He had seen that part of me. Then there were years of not being acknowledged. Now, this summer, it is back. Pilar (Farrucas) called me an artist in her class; Juan too has called me an artist. And now Esperanza, and later Miguel, also called me an artista. It didn’t seem like I did anything that different or spectacular. But it was fun and I just danced and belted out my cante. Esperanza admired my “balls”. I just had fun.
After the first day, Paco would leave early to go teach his morning guitar workshop and the rest of us would walk to the beach, Lakshmi expertly pushing Freddie’s chair. The ocean was calm, with small waves and a large expanse of very shallow water before it got deep. The weather was hot and we were continually going in the ocean just to cool off. It was wonderful. The first day Lakshmi and I had left straight from the beach for Esperanza’s class, but it was uncomfortable to be salty and sandy in class so after that we all went for lunch first, then Lakshmi and I would hurry back to our room to shower and change and then walk or run to class.
It wasn’t exactly relaxing and we had no time for our siestas, but it was fun. In the evenings after dinner and walking around, we would go back to our rooms. We were the only ones in our hallway, so we would open our doors and the hallway became our communal living room. We made music and danced. I practiced the Bulerías that Pilar taught me because I loved doing it and I wanted to remember it. Lakshmi went out on the town with some women she had met at the workshop. She is young.
On the third day Freddie and Lakshmi and I explored a different beach, in the opposite direction and a little further away than the other beach. We ate lunch at the Juan Villar Peña, which was nearby. This was the only Peña in Cádiz that actually had Flamenco music playing. There were old men inside and one of them was the cook and server. He cooked us fresh sardines. We asked for a large salad and he brought us a gigantic serving bowl of fresh salad. It was delicious and extraordinarily cheap. I think Lakshmi might have enchanted him. We ate outside.
Meanwhile Pilar had taken Soleá to visit her grandparents (Pilar’s parents), Andres and Fina, who had rented a beautiful hotel on the beach that was farther up. There the sands were whiter and the beach much larger. It was the tourist resort part of Cádiz. From her window Soleá could see the beach across the street. Soleá loves the beach and when her grandparents had decided to spend two weeks at the beach in Cádiz, Soleá had saved her money in a little piggy bank and had managed to pay for her trip to go with them. She was in heaven.
On our fourth day we went to Soleá’s beach and swam. It was the nicest beach. That night we had a recital at the Perla de Cádiz Peña. Esperanza had decided that I needed to dance and sing in the recital and she told me to just sing what I wanted or could remember. I went first and she introduced me as something special. She had to prompt me with some of the words, but I did it and it was good. Then the rest of the cante class sang one song each and we finished by singing the last song together.
Paco’s students played the whole Cantiñas he had taught them and Esperanza sang with them. Then Miguel’s dance classes performed. Before the show we were awarded diplomas, certificates of achievement. It was fun.
The next day, very early, Paco and Esperanza left to do a show in Greece. Pilar moved to Soleá’s hotel and Freddie and I caught the train with Lakshmi. We were getting off in Jerez to visit David and Clara and Nandi and Lakshmi was heading back to Sevilla. She gave Freddie a Spanish class on the train and we missed our Jerez stop. Freddie and I had to get off in Lebrija and wait for 45 minutes until the next train headed back. We were later told that we were lucky and that that wasn’t a bad wait given the possibilities.
The night before, Lakshmi had found out that she was a finalist in the Concurso and that the finals would happen next Thursday, the night before Freddie and I had to leave Sevilla. Lakshmi had to get her musicians together and to figure out what she would dance, as she was not allowed to dance the two dances she had already danced to get into the finals (her two strongest dances).
We wanted to get back to Sevilla too, to begin the arduous job of packing almost three months of accumulation. However, at David and Clara’s we took a siesta (we were exhausted) and slept too long and so missed the last train back to Sevilla that night. Instead we visited, spent the night, and had a wonderful time. John Moore was there visiting from San Diego and we all went out for tapas with Brooke Zern and his lovely wife, who spend half their time in Jerez and half on the east coast of the US. Freddie had met him years ago but I had only been on a Flamenco e-list with him and had never met him in person.
The next morning I looked at the train schedule and we left with plenty of time to catch the 1 PM train. But this is Spain. The schedule didn’t apply to weekends and it was Saturday. There wouldn’t be a train for hours, so they suggested that we walk to the nearby bus station and take a bus. First we ate breakfast in the air-conditioned train station after finding out about the bus schedule. Then we went to buy our bus tickets and within hours we were on our way to Sevilla. The bus was not nearly as comfortable as the train and took longer, but it got us home.
Sunday we rested and packed our mailing box. I also went to Cihtli and Ethan’s to bring them a DVD I made of Ethan performing with La Familia Fernández in Alcalá. Freddie had originally taped the show. Cihtli and Ethan were leaving for the US the next day.
The next few days were spent organizing and packing, except for two more classes with Juan and Freddie’s speech classes with Lakshmi. Monday at eleven I had a fitting for my two Flamenco dresses that the modista, Amelia was making for me. She had been dismayed to learn that I was going to Cádiz the week before and now she would have to hurry to finish them in the short time we had left before returning home.
Freddie and I also had to finish packing up the box of things we were sending home, as we had acquired too much for our suitcases and we didn’t want to be overweight. We filled our mailing box with old shoes, jeans, a heavy book, unused DVDs and blank videotapes, etc. I got up early on Monday and Freddie strapped the big, heavy box to his wheel chair and I wheeled it to the post office. It weighed just under their weight limit, which I hadn’t known about. What luck. It was expensive but necessary to mail it home. It should arrive within the month.
I walked back home and had just enough time to take a taxi to my fitting with Amelia.
Next we started to organize the things that we store in Spain, our Spanish household items. This year we stored them at Concha’s studio. Part of the difficulty is to find good sturdy boxes that are the right size. It took days. We would put the empty boxes on top of Freddie in the wheel chair. When we had almost everything sorted and packed, we took a load by taxi to Concha’s studio in Triana. Lakshmi helped us. We left the wheelchair at home. Lakshmi stayed for class and we walked to find a taxi, which was difficult for Freddie. We hadn’t thought about that when we left the chair at home. But we made it.
Lakshmi needed a small suitcase and we needed a fourth big one so we traded. But her big one was too heavy and small and she would need it later. So while Lakshmi wheeled Freddie to the knife store in Barrio Santa Cruz where he was able to buy the knives he wanted (they still make wonderful knives in Spain, and we always buy knives at this store) I walked to the center to look for a suitcase.
It took a long time but I finally found a cheap, light suitcase. Freddie got his knives but had to return the next day after they were sharpened; he still had to pay for them too. And I had to get more money both for the knives and for my Flamenco costumes, which Amelia told me would be ready by Thursday (our last day). The next morning we all went to the knife store together and I saw the perfect boxes there, but they weren’t unpacked yet. The knife store owner said to come back that evening and he would have them unpacked. So I took Freddie back that evening and Freddie bought one more knife, a present for Martin, and we came back with two more boxes on top of Freddie.
Amelia called to say that she had finished the dresses early and I could pick them up on Wednesday, a day earlier than she had scheduled. She seemed very happy. I went there and the dresses were beautiful. She is amazing. It was good we had the extra suitcase, because the dresses took up a lot of room!
Thursday we managed to be pretty much packed before going to see Lakshmi’s Concurso. That meant weighing each suitcase and redistributing the things so nothing would be more than twenty kilos. We finally did it.
Again Freddie strapped to the chair a bunch of things we were taking to Lakshmi’s, including Freddie’s guitar, and I carefully walked the wheelchair over the bumpy cobblestone streets to Lakshmi’s apartment (about 10 or 15 minutes away) with the things piled on top. I left the wheelchair there. She will take it and the big box and the tripod to Concha’s when she goes to class. We gave her money for a taxi, as it will be cumbersome. She will give Freddie’s guitar to Paco and Pilar, who will store that for us. We also left Lakshmi our unused food, a phone, an electric fan, etc.
Unfortunately, some of our best-laid end-of-the-trip plans fell through. Luis’ mother, whom we had asked to clean our apartment for us, was at the beach and canceled on us at the last minute. We didn’t have time to leave the apartment in the shape we had wanted to. But we did our best to clean it.
Also the phone company turned off our phone and Internet two days early. They admitted their mistake but didn’t correct it, so we were out of contact by e-mail. Luckily I had already confirmed our flights. Local non-mobile calls from the land phone are free but calls cost when we use the mobile, which we were then forced to use. I had to use it to order the taxi for early the next morning.
That evening we took a cab to Lakshmi’s and dropped off more things that Lakshmi would take to Concha’s, and the rest of our leftover food and our precious Brita water filter for Lakshmi. Then she got into the taxi with us and we headed to the Peña Torres Macarena. The Peña was fuller than I had ever seen it. As usual, Lakshmi danced beautifully, receiving many Olés and a lot of applause, but the contest was rigged. Lakshmi came in fourth, thus not placing. Still it is an honor to have made the finals, and everyone is talking about what a fantastic dancer Lakshmi is. We said goodbye to Jill, Jennifer, Diana, Delia, Toshi and Juan there. Lucy would be returning from France on Saturday so we wouldn’t see her again this time. Paco returned from Greece that night and he and Pilar came to the Peña to say goodbye. It was Paco’s fortieth birthday.
By the time we got home we were too tired to do the end of our packing. So we got up very very early about three hours later and finished up and had things downstairs just in time for the taxi.
At the airport we saw Paco and Pilar. Paco had a seven AM flight to Hungary, where he would be performing for three days. We were all exhausted! We said goodbye again.
Freddie and I flew to Madrid where our next flight left an hour late. I slept on the short hop to Madrid and on the long run to Miami when they weren’t serving food. Freddie watched movies. We arrived in Miami an hour late and had to reclaim our luggage and go through customs. Of course ours was the last luggage off the carousel. We just missed our next flight to LA where we were to connect with a last flight to San Jose. We managed to find another flight four hours later to San Francisco and were able to wait in the Admiral’s club. I was able to check my e-mail there. I managed to call and leave messages for James who was picking us up. He called us back before we left to let us know he had received the message.
Freddie finally slept on the last leg of the trip, Miami to San Francisco and we both missed the dinner.
James picked us up in San Francisco. We arrived home and got to bed by two AM in the morning, after traveling more than twenty-four hours!
Freddie spent Saturday sleeping all day. I did laundry and started to unpack and realized how difficult it would be to get back on a plane for New York early Tuesday morning! I did manage to swim twenty laps in our beautiful pool, which was 91 degrees, actually a little too hot. We were having a heat spell in Santa Cruz.
Sunday Freddie was up for a few hours but then went back to bed. I continued unpacking and packing. Monday we had incredible and grounding massages with Debra and I saw a client. Then I finished packing. Freddie actually packed all my clothes in the suitcase. He is incredible at that. James took me back to the San Francisco airport this morning. We left at five fifteen AM.
Freddie and I want to return to Spain next March. Freddie didn’t want to leave and considered staying while I went to New York. But realistically that couldn’t happen. We do appreciate our beautiful home in California. We would also like to have a home in Sevilla. When I return home from NEW YORK Concha and her daughter Carmen will be here. Then David and Clara and Nandi will come. The next month Cihtli and Ethan will bring Miguel Funi, Antonio Moya, Javier Heredia and his girlfriend Fabi (a singer) and one more singer. So Spain will be coming to us. Hopefully next trip we will stay longer and maybe even find a place to buy, a place were the neighbors are sympathetic to Flamenco.
My battery is almost dead and we are near Chicago, so here ends our Sevilla ’07 updates.