Wednesday, April 13, 2016

La Feria de Abril

I tossed and turned all night long last night, and when I got up I realized there was only one thing to do – head back to Sevillarte and look once again at ceramics. On the previous day I’d fallen in love with an 18th century tile, pulled from some former palace during its demolition. When I had pointed it out to Angel, the owner, he told me that I had exquisite taste- it was one of the few genuinely old pieces in his shop. So with that in mind we went back, perhaps to purchase one of those “lifetime souvenirs.”
Rainy again, what a shock (insert rolling eyes emoji here.) The streets were mostly empty due to the weather no doubt and the cobblestones were slick. It’s not easy navigating these old streets when their surfaces are so slick. Unlike Granada, it’s mostly flat here but there are still plenty of tricky passages and angles.
They were open and we went in and told Angel my sad story of sleeplessness. The tile that had caught my eye was a stylistic rendition of a Magpie, one of my favorite birds. We’d had a great meal at La Garza in Barcelona, their logo being that very bird and one of my favorite opera overtures is Rossini’s La Garza Ladra – The Thieving Magpie. Plus, much of Rossini’s work is set right here in Barrio Santa Cruz. In other words, the stars were aligning.
We talked about New Mexico and Santa Fe in particular, Angel having a family connection to our lovely state via a friend of his mother’s, Mary Lou Maytag, heiress to the appliance fortune. Back in the 1960’s Angel’s parents had shut down their ceramics business for two years to go to New Mexico to oversee the construction of Ms. Maytag’s home. While we were sharing stories an American woman interjected and said that she was from California but that she traveled to Santa Fe regularly. It was turning out to be a small world morning.
Angel’s granddaughter brought some additional tiles out from their storeroom including the one that was destined to go home with me. Same bird, different pose. The deal was struck. After more discussion about the ceramic industry, the history of tile-making, how the element lead sets colors in ceramics and local bird-watching refuges, we were back out into the street and the rain.



We dropped off our load of goods (he had also given us a very fancy catalog of tile history and a beautiful tote bag (based on a set of tiles from the Alcazar,) we went looking for the skinniest street in Sevilla, one we’d found on a neighborhood walk several years ago. I’d analyzed the photo from back then so I had a reasonable idea where it was and where it led. The photos previous to it in my catalog showed the statue of Don Juan that stands just on the edge of the Barrio, next to an entrance to the Jardines de Murillo. And the exit photo showed a building with yellow and white trim on a sunlit square. So off we went, finding Don Juan immediately but from the where we entered the square there was no obvious skinny street going out. Until we saw it, almost invisible from where we were standing. We went over and recreated our 2013 photo, having to wait first for a mother and daughter scurrying through to avoid the rain and a runner who nodded his thanks allowing his passage.




After a lengthy break back home for a genuinely torrential downpour we decided to gird our loins and walk over to La Feria. It’s a long haul and we knew that sooner or later the weather was going to get us, so we dressed appropriately and brought our umbrellas and took off, passing first by the Alfonso XIII where got lucky again – dozens of carriages picking up people to shuttle them over to the fairgrounds. After a photo session there we joined the crowds, crossed the river and began the long trek up Avenida Asunción to the gates.
Looks are deceptive – the beautiful arched entry seemed just up the block, but our endless walking told the real story. But now the streets were filling young men in suits escorting their dates in Flamenca finery and so at least the rainy slog was entertaining. Finally arriving we entered and began our paseo up and down the lanes.
Carriages were everywhere, most drivers wearing dark green rain suits to keep their costumes dry. Not so many individual riders, no doubt due to the rain. Women in every color of traditional dress dodging puddles under umbrellas, playing with their cell phones. The action in the casetas was picking up steam with music and food and lots of cigarettes. People dancing, people chatting. We made a couple of big loops on some random streets taking lots of photos and finally deciding that after a while, the sensory overload makes it all seem the same. Vivid, but unchanging. We left the park and took a different route back to our Barrio through the gardens of the Parque Maria Luisa and up Constitución once again.


Rather than lunch at home we stopped for a beer and a plate of croquettes at a nice little restaurant on a quiet treed plaza not far from our place. A group of mid-school kids had been let loose so they were running around being noisy. Five of them decided that the five spouts in tiny fountain at the square’s center needed to be plugged. Hilarity did not ensue.

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