Thursday, May 31, 2012

Visiting Grandpa — The Dia de San Fernando

Yesterday was a holiday in Sevilla. But there was no parade. Well, there was no parade that I'm aware of; there could very well have been a parade somewhere in the city.

San Geraldo griped about the fact that the stores were closed yet again, but I reminded him that the holiday was in honor of the birthday of his very own 22-Greats Grandfather Fernando III of Castille and León. Or, more simply, San Fernando El Rey (Saint Ferdinand the King), the patron saint of Sevilla. If there really was no parade yesterday, I do know for a fact at least that there were three special masses held in San Fernando's honor in the Cathedral of Sevilla where he is entombed. I did not make Jerry go to mass in the morning, but I did make him walk with me to the Cathedral in the afternoon to pay our respects to Grandpa.

STANDING IN LINE IN THE HOT AFTERNOON SUN OUTSIDE THE CATHEDRAL.

You may remember that Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-Grandpa Fernando is buried in a gold, silver, and crystal casket in the Cathedral. His tomb is inscribed in four languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and an early version of Castillano (the most common language in contemporary Spain and the one I have been trying to learn). Fernando III was canonized San Fernando El Rey, more than 400 years after his death, in 1671 by Pope Clement X.

22-GREATS-GRANDPA SAN FERNANDO THE KING.

He spends eternity preserved in a grand chapel with his golden crown encircling his head as he lies beneath the statue of the Virgin of the Kings. Unfortunately, we have yet to see him because the chapel has been under restoration for months. I was convinced it would be done in time for his birthday, which is why I dragged his multi-great-grandson San Geraldo there in the 97-degree (36C) heat. Well, I was wrong. We arrived to find only the closed ornate gate backed by plywood between the stone carvings of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand (born about 300 years later). Lucky for us, as residents we pay no entrance fee.

SAN FERNANDO EL REY LIES BEHIND THE PLYWOOD AND METALWORK.
I IMPRESSED THE GUARD WHEN I TOLD HER JERRY WAS HIS 22-GREATS GRANDSON.
IT DIDN'T HELP.

San Geraldo was very forgiving. He sat for a while in an ancient pew in the cool of the great stone Cathedral and contemplated the magnificent organ. We've decided to go back some Sunday to hear it played.

CHOIR STALLS. NEAR WHERE SAN GERALDO SAT AND COOLED HIMSELF.

We did, however, get to see a famous statue of San Fernando El Rey as well as his flag, the standard that was carried by his troops. The large flag flew above Sevilla's mezquita (now the royal palace) when the city was turned over to King Fernando III in the year 1248. It is in pristine condition having been meticulously preserved in the Cathedral for nearly six centuries. It is permanently displayed in a glass case. Well, Greats, we tried. Maybe we'll see you next year.

THE STANDARD OF SAN FERNANDO. FROM THE YEAR 1248.
(IN BETTER CONDITION EVEN THAN OLD GLORY.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Seeing a Stork in Sevilla: Good or Bad Omen?

There are a number of superstitions about storks. Among them:

1.  If a stork builds a nest on your house, your house will never burn down nor will it ever be visited by robbers.
2.  Killing a stork is considered unlucky. (I should hope so.)
3.  A black stork is said to bring rain.
4.  A white stork is said to bring drought.
5.  A pair of lovers who see a stork will have a baby before long.


While out for lunch in the neighborhood with some friends yesterday, I noticed a beautiful ruin of a roofline in the near distance. No one knew for certain what the roofline belonged to. It may be attached to an old church entrance that still stands on the nearby Calle Feria. I'll have to go back and explore to see if I can find out.

As I was admiring the structure, I noticed at the highest point what I first thought was a large plastic, decorative bird. I then realized that it, of course, wouldn't be plastic or decorative. I took out my camera and zoomed in (although not very well) on a live stork on a nest atop the tower. I also caught a brief glimpse of a young stork on the nest as it briefly flapped its wings from beneath the adult, (although I couldn't get a photo of the baby from that distance — and therefore don't know if it's a storkling or storklet).



I don't know what it portends. Since the nest isn't on our house, #1 is out; we've got no protection from fire or theft. I definitely won't be risking #2 by killing anything. It wasn't a black stork, so we shouldn't expect rain; that rules out #3. Which leaves #4 and #5. I hope for everyone's sake it's not a drought. And although San Geraldo was with me and we are in fact a "pair of lovers," I am absolutely ruling out #5 (although I am curious to know how that would be accomplished — for one thing, neither of us being of child-bearing age).

I leave you all to consider superstition(?) #6:
Humans who betray their marriage partners will have their eyes pecked out by a stork.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where Are All the Puritans?

Jerry and I have happily noted since living in Spain that Spaniards, in general, do not have the same Puritanical approach to life as we Americans. Mothers breast-feeding their infants in public are never an embarrassment. Bared bottoms and breasts are not shameful (or censored) on television. And advertising tends to be a bit more risque (by American Puritanical standards). One specific television commercial, however, did surprise us the first time we saw it and, admittedly, still shocks us just a bit (while it makes us laugh out loud). Dudo found it very entertaining last night when he happened to catch it for the first time. This requires no special language skills. You will definitely understand.



Monday, May 28, 2012

The Long and Dusty Road to Rocío

After walking, driving, and/or riding for most of four days and 78 km (47 miles), Lola, Albert and Alex, Lola's son Javier, Lola's brother, and the assorted other pilgrims arrived safely in Rocío Saturday afternoon, partied their hearts out Saturday night, and then began to pay their respects Sunday to the Virgin of Rocío. I think the pilgrims will all depart Rocío Tuesday or Wednesday. Since I am no pilgrim, Lola, Albert, and Javier very kindly have taken photos and shared them along the way. I'm glad I didn't make that long, dusty trek; tapas with las guapas Friday night was so much more relaxing (and clean). But, from the photos, it would be an amazing event to witness. And the music and dancing look joyous. Maybe San Geraldo and I should take Flamenco lessons.

THE PILGRIMS FROM TRIANA WITH THE PASO AND WAGONS IN THE BACKGROUND.

IT BECOMES A VERY DUSTY AND DIRTY TREK AS THEY GET CLOSER TO ROCÍO.

REACHING ROCÍO SATURDAY AFTERNOON.

SATURDAY NIGHT.

ALWAYS SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE.

MAY EVERYONE STILL BE SINGING AND DANCING NEXT YEAR!

THE VIRGIN OF ROCÍO.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players?

I haven't posted parade pictures since Wednesday. We were long overdue. So, last night as we sat at home eating dinner around 10:30 we heard the familiar sound of a marching band. I of course grabbed my camera and ran downstairs. There was a band already beneath our windows and I could see a kind of disheveled, gap-filled procession trailing far behind with the shimmering glow of a paso in the distance.

FOR THESE TWO, DRUMMING WAS SERIOUS BUSINESS — IF PERHAPS A LITTLE BORING.

As the band passed, I noted a much more informal air, as if no one was really in charge. Two horn players were smoking, instead of playing, as they dragged themselves along. Every so often another horn player would do his own jazzy little riff that was clearly not part of the marching music.

"THIS THING IS HEAVER THAN I THOUGHT."

After one major gap, I realized this procession was mostly children. And the adults weren't having an easy time keeping them moving. The kids carrying the tall candles thought it was great fun to drip wax into their hands and play with it as they walked in all directions but forward. Some kids were seeing how close they could get their fingers to the flame. Everyone was in good spirits. The adults seemed to resign themselves to a disorderly ramble through the streets.

THE PARADE GOT A BIT OUT OF CONTROL. "HOT WAX IS SO COOL."

STILL TRYING, IN VAIN, TO GET THE KIDS ORGANIZED.

A COSTALERO OF THE FUTURE. HE AND HIS PAL SAW MY CAMERA AND STOPPED TO POSE.

THE INCENSE CARRIERS, ENGROSSED IN MAKING SMOKE.

Behind the beautiful paso of the Madonna and Child was a second marching band, composed mostly of teens and young adults. They were surprisingly good and played less traditional marching music. They were also a joyous and friendly bunch who kept stopping to pose for my camera.

THE EXQUISITE PASO.

THE HAPPY HORNS SECTION.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Duo Tapas with Tres Guapas... and Rode Estigwar

"Guapa" is an endearing way to say "beautiful" and San Geraldo and I had the pleasure of being with three guapas last night. We spent the evening with Teré, along with Paula and Adela, who also work downstairs at El Sanedrín and who have also made us feel like Sevilla is truly home. Paula and Adela recently became roommates and live in the nearby cool neighborhood of La Alameda. They suggested we meet for dinner around nine last night.

DOS GUAPAS.
PAULA (LEFT) MOONING ABOUT METALLICA. ADELA ENVYING HER DAY IN MADRID.

So, Teré came by after work to visit her nephews the cats. And we three then met Paula and Adela in La Alameda and walked together to Duo Tapas. It's located in a charming little plaza in front of a small chapel. The food was exceptional and inexpensive. The service was perfect. The atmosphere, relaxing.

CHAPEL OF [QUICK INHALE] HERMANDAD SANTA CRUZ DEL RODEO Y NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL CARMEN.
SINCE 1502.

Paula and Adela both speak a little English, but they haven't used it much. So, they speak mostly Spanish and I translate for Jerry if he doesn't follow something. (He follows a lot.)

SAN GERALDO (IN GREEN WITH BACK TO THE CAMERA). SPEAKING WITH HIS ENTIRE BODY.

DELICIOUS POTATOES IN SALSA.
IT WASN'T EASY GETTING SAN GERALDO AND PAULA TO SHARE WITH THE REST OF US.

TERE A LA TEMPURA.
BOTH DELICIOUS.

Paula headed to Madrid this morning to see a Metallica concert. She loves music and told us that she has seen and loves Rode Estigwar, as well. I asked, "Who?" And Teré repeated — shocked that I didn't recognize the name — "Rode Estigwar." Paula then played a bit of a song on her smart phone. We know Rode Estigwar better as Rod Stewart. They burst out laughing when they heard the correct pronunciation. Tere then said she'd have to call her mother who has always had a crush on the old-time actor, Estigwar Granhair. She thought her mother would be surprised to learn that his real name is Stewart Grainger.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

G'wan Home, Ya' Mudder's Callin'

MUDDER AND ME.
Many of us have memories of our mothers singing songs to us when we were children. My mother, The Dowager Duchess, still tends to burst into song at the drop of a hat (I mean the drop of a word). I inherited that trait. Just about everything makes me think of a song. And if you want me to remember something forever, just put it to music. The Duchess's favorite songs for children were not those sweet little ditties most mothers sang to their kids. Hers were old vaudeville tunes or songs from films. I don't know if Good Housekeeping would give their seal of approval to these songs being sung to a 2-year-old, but I sure enjoyed them and will remember them forever. And whatever damage they may have done to my emotional development... well, I've learned to live with it.

THE DOWAGER DUCHESS AND THE ROYAL CONSORT (MY FATHER).
PRACTICING ONE OF THEIR TRADITIONAL LULLABIES.
(WITH THANKS TO MY COUSIN SHEREE FOR THIS CLASSIC PHOTO.)

The first song is one of my all-time favorites. In trying to find it online today, I learned that it's an old jumping-rope rhyme. I couldn't find a video of it being performed so you'll just have to imagine it being sung by the ever-surprising Dowager Duchess.

Oh, I won't go to Macy's anymore, more, more.
There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door.
He'll grab you by the collar.
And he'll make you pay a dollar.
No, I won't go to Macy's anymore, more, more!

However, The Dowager Duchess apparently added her own personal twist to the last three lines. She didn't sing them as above. Her lyrics were:

(Note: The first "ch" combination is pronounced gutterally, like German.)
He'll squash you like a lemon.
Uchalotchka zulhimemnon.
No, I won't go to Macy's anymore, more, more!


I'm ending with The King's Jesters and their classic tune written in 1936. I originally had posted here a very brief video clip from the 1946 film, "Two Sisters from Boston," but the video has now been removed from YouTube for copyright infringement. This one contains the complete original song (although not performed by a bunch of chorus girls). The always appropriate Dowager Duchess would sing the verse from 2:42 to 2:51 while she did laundry.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Virgin of Rocío

The Romería de El Rocío has begun. Pilgrims are traveling from all over Spain (and Europe) to meet in the little town of Rocío at the Hermitage of El Rocío. It's about 78 km (47 miles) southwest of Sevilla. I was up at 7:30 (gasp) to see everyone off, but mostly to take pictures and witness the departure. It took me about 10 minutes to walk from our house and cross the bridge into Triana; let's call it my pilgrimage.

GOING MY WAY? THE FIRST VEHICLE I SAW AFTER WALKING ACROSS THE BRIDGE.

The group from Sevilla set off from Triana around 10:00 this morning, Wednesday. They are expected to have all arrived in Rocío by midnight Saturday. Pilgrims walk; drive; ride horseback; ride in carts pulled by oxen, mules, tractors... you name it. Each procession is led by a paso carrying an emblem of the Immaculate Conception.

SOME PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS ESCORTING THE PASO.

MY FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE PASO.
(THE GREEN HAT BANDS ARE IMPRINTED WITH THE NAME "TRIANA.")

Just about everyone I saw wore a medallion of the Virgin. Some were simple, some were grand. Some were new and some had been handed down for generations. The procession began on Triana's large pedestrian street Calle San Jacinto, but soon turned left into the narrow Calle San Jorge and continued around the bend onto Calle de Castilla passing the Callejon de la Inquisición on its way.  The street quickly became clogged with pilgrims and onlookers. It was a claustrophobe's nightmare. (I'm glad San Geraldo wasn't there.)

 I WONDER HOW MANY PILGRIMAGES THEY'VE SEEN PASS.

The paso stopped for about 15 minutes in front of the historic church (built between 1697 and 1702), Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la O (I  have absolutely no idea what "the O" is and I can only imagine where some readers' minds will go), on Calle de Castilla, where it was blessed with flower petals thrown from church balconies. Tribute songs were sung, a cheer was led, and then the procession got into full swing.

THE FLOWER PETALS.

I was trapped in the crowd during the musical/floral interlude and I was grateful to be tall enough to be able to reach my arms above the heads of the people around me so I could take pictures. The motorized vehicles all waited on the edge of Triana for the paso, the marchers, the horses, and the ox carts to reach them. Then, everyone took off.

LOLA IN TRAVELING CLOTHES (NO HEELS THIS WEEK.)
A BEER BREAK BEFORE THE CROWD CATCHES UP.

Alex waited with the car. Albert, Lola, and some family and friends walked with the crowds until they reached him. Then, everyone but Lola drove off. Lola will not get back in the car until Saturday! The back of the car was filled with food and drink, so Lola will be well-fed and hydrated for her 78-km walk.

  
KIND OF THE WAY SAN GERALDO'S ANCESTORS TRAVELED TO DAKOTA TERRITORY.
(BUT NOT QUITE...)

WAGON TRAIN?

AND NOW THE PARTY STARTS.

I THINK I'D RATHER WALK.