Thursday, January 14, 2010

A second madre for Lyndsay and me

For a week I’ve been living out of my suitcase in a hotel in the middle of Sevilla. Today, Lyndsay and I moved in with a woman named Chencha. She has a lovely apartment in a neighborhood called ‘Los Remedios’ and it’s about a block away from the Guadalquivir River.

Chencha is the kind of woman that just radiates happiness. Even in three-inch heels she doesn’t come up to my shoulder, but she still hugs me despite her head’s placement being directly in my chest. That’s something I’ve learned about the Sevillanos. They don’t fear physical contact or discussion of topics most families in the US wouldn’t consider kosher. For example, tonight after dinner the three of us sat around the table snacking on cheese while Chencha told us about dirty things that boys may say to us while we’re here.

But Chencha didn’t even wait that long to get personal with us. Not long after unpacking, Lyndsay and I walked into the kitchen to bring Chencha her gifts that we had brought her from America. I had gotten her a vase and Lyndsay brought her a calendar, soap and chocolates. Upon seeing the chocolates Chencha (who is a widow) exclaimed, “Ay Dios mio (Oh my God), chocolate is my substitute for sex!”

At lunch today she made us a phenomenal rice and chicken dish. Along with that we had a Spanish salad. Salads here aren’t like the salads in the US, they’re more like a vegetable medley, rather than mostly lettuce with a few vegetables. In our salad we had just as many pieces of corn as lettuce, and just as many pieces of tomato as onion. And instead of dressing, Spaniards put olive oil/vinegar/spices on their vegetables.

After trying to consume half of what she put in front of me I had to tell her I was stuffed. (At dinner we explained the term 'food baby' to her, which she greatly enjoyed) She then asked if I would like to have an orange. I consented only because the oranges here are fantastic. Orange trees line every street and in just a few weeks, I’m told, the whole city will smell like citrus fruits.

The biggest struggle of the next five months will be keeping my part of the room clean. At home, I constantly live in a state of structured chaos, with the notion that life is much more orderly when I can see everything I own. Chencha lives by the ideals that there can’t be anything on our floor. Perhaps she can break me of my ways.

But I think I’m settling into this lifestyle quite well. It’s 10:15 and I’ve just finished dinner, I’m wearing a bathrobe given to me by Chencha (since they don’t have central heating, the houses are quite cold right now), and Lyndsay and I are recanting our day in Spanish.

This week, we’ve been attending culture and grammar classes. It’s only a ten minute walk from our classroom to our apartment complex and tonight as I walked home I saw: city lights reflected in the Guadalquivir, tons of couples in love (in a country where PDA isn’t seen as a problem), lots of men running in spandex shorts and several women hanging their colorful laundry to dry outside of their balconies.

Yes, this is Sevilla. And yes, I actually live here.

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