LAS MONJASThe last week of my enchanting and magical time in Sevilla, I was blessed to live in Javier's and Alicia's amazing apartment which was in el barrio La Alfalfa, situated in the very midst of el centro, Sevilla. Javier was my second home-exchange partner, and was living in my house in Oakland for the month of June, while working on his graduate thesis at Berkeley. His girlfriend, Alicia, who graciously showed me around Sevilla in the early part of my trip, was away in Brazil during my stay in their lovely home.
The apartment is quaint and eclectic, French doors in every doorway, and windows too, opening to the fresh air, Spanish tile on every floor.... ancient and historical detail everywhere. Just AMAZING! The best part was a gorgeous rooftop terraza (terrace), where Alicia and Javier have a lovely, blooming garden, chaise lounge, table and chairs... I enjoyed several sunny evenings there with a glass of wine.
The sweet apartment is actually in the back portion of a convent. The convent is currently operational, however, the back portion of it was renovated into apartments many years ago. The bedroom shares a wall with the convent, and every morning and evening, I could hear las monjas (the nuns) singing vespers! It was breathtaking! Think: Sound of Music! What a beautiful and unexpected surprise! So, whenever I heard them, I took the cue to stop and pray, along with them. It was so comforting and healing!!
Sadly, my time in Sevilla has come to an end. I am truly, deeply sad to leave this charming, enchanting, magical city, which so gracefully combines ancient history and tradition with modern technology and conveniences. Sevillanos stand firmly on tradition, with much pride and passion. The Andalucian people are the warmest, most welcoming I've ever met. The friends I've made in Sevilla have touched my heart forever, and are surely friends for life. One last stroll through el centro left my heart aching for more, and I know I'll be back very soon.
For my final two nights, my friends all put together a little farewell celebration, which included caracoles, muchas cervezas, a ride on Kiko's Harley Davidson (EEE!), and – yes, once again – Karaoke! This time - because now I'm and "old pro" - I found myself doing my best Carly Simon impression, singing “You're So Vain.” Don't ask! I believe Kiko has the entire thing recorded, and I offered quite a substantial sum for him to delete it, which he flatly refused. Incidentally, Sinatra's “My Way” is a huge Karaoke favorite in Spain, in both Inglés and Español! Folks truly get quiet and pay homage to the song, and the entire place sings along.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye. There were endless hugs, kisses, tears (not just mine!), and promises of staying in touch and future visits. I have insisted the entire crew come visit me, and I look forward to returning the warm welcome, and to showing them the best parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. With a heavy heart, I returned to my apartment where my packed suitcases were already waiting by the door, and cried myself to sleep. But the next morning brought the beginning of la próxima aventura – Barcelona!! Stay tuned...