Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 4

Andover; Sun 28th HomeAgainHomeAgain…JiggittyJig Sevilla, Saturday morning, the rain fell steadily and cold. At the stop for the airport bus, a dozen folks crowded under the shelter overhang and clustered in the dark under umbrellas.  Daylight doesn’t begin until about 8AM at this time of the year.  The windows of the bus were covered with the condensed moisture of a travelers leaving Sevilla.  The defogging system on the bus was hardly able to deal with the windshield. Check in and security is never the same.  Each place and sometimes each agent have their own procedure.  It does give credence to the idea of “Security Theater”.  In Sevilla, anyone with fashion boots had to remove them.  No other footwear came off.  No need to open the computer here!  With time aplenty, we settled at a table for a Spanish coffee.  These are small cup espresso or cafe con leche.  The milk is hot so as not to cool the coffee.  The Cafe Solo is espresso; strong and with the sugar, a real different taste.  Occasionally I get the double cup when a single “thimble” of espresso is not enough.  This AM a roll, and out of a ziploc, some left over jamon Iberico del bellato from last night’s farewell tapas. A tall Latin American guy asked us to baby sit his baggage while he got his desayuno.  He too had a double espresso and a sandwich, which he heated in the microwave near the cashier.  A seasoned traveler!  Later he invited us into the boarding line with him as we waited the boarding of Sevilla to Madrid.  [A common practice...

Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 3

Sevilla, Friday 26th Buenas Tardes, Friday morning, we head back to el barrio de Triana on the other side of the Guadalquivir River that flows through the city.  There is a Castillo de San Jorge on the edge of the river; a monument to the purity of intolerance; now it is a museo of Tolerance.  The lively Mercado de Triana is at street level.  The former buildings of the castillo were razed and covered almost two centuries ago.  The excavated ruins are under the mercado. This was the official center for the Spanish Inquisition.  There is no Monty Python joke here.  The “conservo” was at issue.  The Church was upset that some of the Jews who stayed after the Christian conquest of Espana did NOT really accept the christianity that they were forced to convert to.  It was believed that many actually practiced Jewish ritual in secret.  An officialdom was formed to deal with the problem of secret Jews and heretics.  People were encouraged to inform on suspected Conservos, and later Lutherans, and Reformists, and anyone who might do something, believe in something that was “heretical” to the established beliefs.  The Inquisitors would get the truth from the accused sooner or later by one torture or another.  Yes waterborading was in vogue as well as the rack.  “The truth will save you” and get you burned at the stake.  If you were lucky, you were strangled before the flames reached you. Difficult transition to go upstairs to the mercado where locals do their daily shopping for fresh meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables.  Sitting at a small table with a...

Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 2

Sevilla; Thursday Thanksgiving 25th Hola y Buenas Noches, The rain in Spain… Weather looks cloudy and showery/rainy through our stay in beautiful Sevilla. “Showers become rain, some umbrellas become all. Cobbles and puddles.” November starts the cool wet winter season here.  We are assured that it will get nice in March.  Still there are a lot of tourists here.  Many tour groups can be seen going into the Catederal and the Giralda, and the Alcazar.  There a several different Japanese groups.  Meg was often greeted here and in Maroc with “Konichiwa.”. The Giradla was an 85 foot high minaret built from 1198 to 1248 by the same Arabic architect that built two similar ones in Marrakech and Rabat.  Five times a day, a rider on horseback would ascend the minaret’s ramped corridor to the top to do the call to prayer.  The Christians captured the town in 1248 and just built a bell tower on top of the “new” minaret.  They followed by building what is now the third largest cathedral in the world.   Nice of them preserving the minaret, since they usually destroyed the religious sites of the vanquished and built a church that included the former building’s remains. We’ve fallen into the local routine of morning coffee and a tostada [toasted roll with ham or olive oil].  Then walk a lot all over town and take a lot of photos [with as little gray sky as possible ;~{ ].  Lunch, long after 1PM, is usually a “menu del dia” for a set price of about 10 euro each.  This is an appetizer or soup followed by entree and dessert with bread and...

Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 1

Sevilla; Wednesday 24th Buenas Tardes, The flight from Casablanca to Madrid went OK.  Again, my cold had me sleeping all the way.  Even though there was no legroom on this Airbus A320.  We had a transfer in Madrid for Sevilla that was a squeeze.  We were told that there would be plenty of time and no passport control until Sevilla.  Wrong!  My passport guy was slow and hit the stamp twice.  The security guy, 20 feet away, objected to the double stamping and took me back to talk to the stamper!! Now security screening again and the clock says 30 minutes to boarding of our plane.  The signs suggest that the gate is 20 minutes away.  Kind folks allowed us to advance to the front of the LONG line.  These screeners were a problem.  Meg got a full scan and I had to go through twice because I had put my computer on top of the case in the tray; not in a separate tray.  Everything back through!  Try over! “Running through airports” with backpacks. Remember the old AVIS ads?  We boogied the long terminal corridor to the gate.  No one lined up at the boarding gates!!  “Are we too late?”  Two gate attendants said that the plane to Seville had NOT unloaded yet.  We would be boarding in a half hour. A tight cramped A320 Airbus for a nap.  I could not even put the seat back.  Napping upright!!  Finally, we get to hotel deep in the old part of Seville, half way between the bullring and the Giralda (sister mineret to the one in Marrakech).  It is cold but clear. ...

Irregular Posts; Morocco 8, Rabat

Casablanca; Monday 22nd Salaam, Fez to Casablanca via Rabat.   With a cold, I slept most of the way from Fez to Casablanca.  So I missed seeing most of the agriculture, and green fields, and activity of the region.  The highway was smooth and wide so my napping was not rudely broken. Rabat is a city for government and not that touristy.  But there was a neighborhood where there was a kasbah, Fes al Bali, of blue and white buildings and narrow and cobbled hilly streets. Again each turn has a pretty street and doors and flowers over walls.  As usual people are not happy to see a group of 7 photographers lined up like a “firing squad”.  We shoot the architecture, and respectfully not the people.  Kids do like to get involved with the shoots and make interesting candids as they play. At one small blue door, there appeared two young guys with a box that said “refrigerator”.  The entrance door was short and narrow, and set into a large arched door. There was no way that the box would go through standing up.  They tried to tip and slide through but the box was too wide.  Our guide Ishmael suggested to them to open the big arched door.  But it could not be done easily.  OK take the refrig out of the box and try again. The happy woman owner brought a knife and the unpacking began.  Soon the shiny chrome steel was tipped and moved through the door.  They had done a good job of knowing the refrig was OK for the smalldoor. A farewell dinner at the Sheraton in Casablanca was typical of these things.  The...

Irregular Posts; Morocco 7, Fes

Fes; Sunday 21st Salaam, Shopping and touring day in Fes.  [fez is a hat, fes is a city].  Busy day in the city;  arch doors at the King’s palace – Melih or Jewish quarter and cemetery from 14th century – a panorama of city from south fort – pottery artisan shop – medina [old walled city] – lunch – tannery and the stomach turning smells of leather work – rug coop – weaver coop.  Jeez Louisz, I am tired! Note the shopping venues listed.  Meg did her bargaining thing and quite well I suspect. Slippers (baboushes) for home and gift.  OK.  A million knot per square meter room living room sized rug for $30.000! Not for us thanks. “I want a small one, 2 ft by 3 ft.  The colors have to be…”.  The merchant was very disappointed that she didn’t want to see even the “small” 4×6 rugs.  He had the assistants, who let the rugs roll out with a flourish and snap, finally bring a handful of the desired size.  “Ali Baba, what do you want?”  “She is the one you need to talk to.”  The seller started at 1200 USD Meg countered at 200!   She hardnosed him to a final 260 USD!!  I bleed for sellers when they have to face up to her.  I get uncomfortable and just respond that “she is the boss”!  I did negotiate for a couple of fossils and a cheap Maroc shirt!.  But expensive stuff?  Not me thanks. Questions about Maroc-Jewish issue. There are 8 million people in Maroc with currently about 2500 Jews.  They no longer live in the Melih [Jewish...