Flamenco

Spain, I will remember you for many things that did not happen.

I did not see the inside of the Alcazar in Seville, though I walked the streets around it. I did not visit the great Alhambra in Granada, though we traveled hours each way for the purpose, admired views of it from surrounding hills and enjoyed much of the life of this lovely town for a couple of days. In Madrid, I never found a real jazz club, much less play “Spain” on a piano—though that song played constantly in my head all week.

Instead, I will remember many hours of walking streets that see wheels but rarely, brick-paved in Seville, cobblestone in Granada, brick again (sometimes flagstone) in Madrid.

Maggie’s aim was always on the museums, and visits to the Prado and the Reina Sophia were outstanding. But the greatest revelation of all came in a 12-hour stopover in Barcelona, how of Gaudi’s great temple, the Sagrada Familia.

This will take more than one post, so let me start with our night in Sevilla.

IMG_7691.jpg On a tip from our AirBNB host, we walk from Plaza de la Alfalfa through narrow stone streets lined with old churches and an occasional tapas bar. We find our destination, a narrow doorway that opens into what might have once been a small chapel or carriage house, converted into a bar. Wind the maze, and the room opens onto a much larger covered patio, now an auditorium. The place is full, not with tourists like us but what appear to be local people: students, workers, families. Three men come and sit on the stage. One has a guitar, the other two only clap their hands until one starts singing. The singing is not great in terms of vocal quality, but the passion and commitment sell it. The crowd is rapt: there is not a sound from the bar.

685 Carb bar.jpg

It gets more interesting. Another man comes up to the stage, bringing a boy of perhaps 3 or 4.They join the group facing the audience and join the clapping. The child turns away in embarrassment, as young children will do when overwhelmed with too much attention from strangers; he doesn’t want to clap along. Why, I wonder, is this man torturing his son this way? The Niño is too young to be a performer.

Then another song begins, the father is singing–quite beautifully–and the toddler gets up to the front of the stage to dance!

It’s not that he’s graceful, or joyful, or especially creative; it the fact that he’s doing it at all, and clearly in close touch with the music.

Then I see the next dance, and it all makes sense. The boy can dance, alone, in front of hundreds of people, because he has a role model, a culture that says this is a fine thing for a man to do. Hurrah! Olé for the culture that supports men expressing their feelings in such a public way, Olé for the community that gathers to honor this

The next day turns into a series of hassles, trying to find a print shop to print the train ticket for the afternoon, packing, getting our luggage out of the B&B–and then at last getting to the famed Alcazar, only to find a 30-minute queue to get in. My legs are already shot, no way can I wait in line and have anything left to actually tour with. So instead, we enjoy the streets outside the fortress wall.

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