Faces of AmazementRecently departed from the sandstone city of Salamanca, it was a short four days until I found myself wandering the orange filled streets of Spain’s southern province of Andalucia. I was a three and a half hour bullet train ride away from my home in Segovia. With my trip to the sandstone city and my familiarity of Segovia, I thought my Spanish credentials were stellar. Surely I would be adequately educated to handle anything that I encountered in Andalucia. When I finally arrived in Spain’s southern
Three days into our group’s much anticipated trip to Andalucia, the rest of my female cohorts, and I, piled into the tiny, “European sized” car. We were beginning our descent into Andalucia’s most populated city, Sevilla. Departing from the mountainous city of Ronda, of which I gained memories of pesto pasta “to die for,” and breathtaking sunset views, the entire Friday and Saturday morning I spent there would add to my myriad of positive memories of Spain’s sun engulfed southern tip. Blasting upbeat tunes from the base of the car’s sound system, I gave a silent goodbye to the mountain town as we maneuvered down it’s winding roads. In two hours I would find myself in the culturally rich city of Sevilla.
Rolling down the car window for a clearer glimpse at the city of Sevilla, the streets hinted at resemblances of the the American hotspots of Los Angeles and Miami with an undoubtable Spanish flare. At around four-thirty in the afternoon we arrived at the train station to drop off our rental car, then got on a city bus in route to our hostel. Sevilla, a city with a drawn-out history of Moorish and Catholic rule, consisted of intricately designed brick buildings, a tribute to its Arabic roots, and large cathedrals, a dedication to Catholicism. It was a saturday afternoon and the streets were crowded with families, busy shoppers and street performers. The city was alive. A twenty minute bus ride and fifteen minute walk and my nine peers and teachers Eric, Havana, and I had arrived at our hostel on a narrow street. Now it was six-thirty, I had finished unpacking and went outside to immerse myself in the Sevillan culture.
Sunday night I attended a Flamenco show in which I dove, head first, into the passion of the Spanish culture. I had known a little about Flamenco from taking a dance class and several guitar lessons on the art form. Seated in the second row of chairs, I was so close to the stage I could reach out and touch its wooded flooring. The stage was medium sized and raised about three feet from ground level. The wood was weathered, I presumed from the stomping of dance heels, and there were three chairs in the back left of the stage. As I noticed the huge photograph of a traditional Flamenco gathering hanging on the back wall, the lights of the venue began to dim and I heard the scuffle of feet. The show had begun and the two of the three back seats were now occupied by true Flamenco guitarists, producing the sweetest melodies from their stringed musical instrument. As the two dancers began their Sevillana, the type of Flamenco dance they began the show with, the guitarists effortlessly maintained the beat. Both guitarists dressed in all black, one played bold chords while the other finger picked a string of notes to create a harmony.
Although the dancers took center stage, my eyes never left sight of the guitarists in the background. Having learned to play the guitar three years ago, I understood its importance in contributing to the success of any performance. Most people’s eyes were stuck on the dancers, however, I respected the difficult job the guitarists had of conveying the movements of the dancers through song. As the dancers momentum rose and fell the guitarists had to follow. When the guitarists and dancers fell into accord a divine feeling of love, passion and ease was conveyed through the dancer’s flowing body contortions and the guitarist’s smooth finger picking. This zestful feeling would sweep the audience like a huge ocean swell and leave the observers with eyes wide, mouths agape and faces of amazement. Sitting in my seat, I had been blown away. I felt carefree, blissful and warmth in the upper left half of my chest. I had butterflies in my stomach. As the din of the Flamencos began to fade and the audience applauded in appreciation I thought to myself,” had I fallen in love with Flamenco?” Indeed I had.
The trip to Andalucia marked the halfway point of our total stay in Spain, in addition the Flamenco show had become a high point of my Spanish adventures thus far. Although I had only been in Spain for one month, it felt as if I had been residing in the country for a third of a year. It confounded me to think that through a thirty-day time period I had been exposed to a multisided view of Spain’s culture. I discovered it’s cerebral intensity through museums and monuments, artistic gifts through music and architecture and flare through the food and people.
Traveling to Andalucia and finally seeing a Flamenco show was the best way to celebrate making it halfway through my Spanish journey. After reflecting on the show later that night, I realized that although the dancers were center stage, the performance was memorable because of the collectiveness of the Flamenco troupe. One could not overlook or under-appreciate the job of the guitarists simply because they were in the back. Often in society people tend to look past things they feel are not important. As I continue my journey through Spain it is important that I keep my eyes peeled so I am able to appreciate what many people may overlook.
Dear Reader, one of the most important tricks to having a wonderful journey in Spain is being an observant traveler. There are so many things to see. Make sure you keep your eyes open. After seeing the Flamenco show in Sevilla, I came to lesson number five: pay attention to your surroundings. Taking the time to observe your backdrop will pay off. In this country of red and gold do not take anything for granted or else you may never notice the beauty hidden in the background.