I can’t believe I’m finally here in Sevilla. I don’t even know where to begin…
When our group finally reclaimed our baggage at the small airport in Seville, my stomach was filled with a myriad of emotions. I had just met my new roommate for the next four months and in a few moments I was to meet the “family” that would eventually become my keepers. Eliza and I were greeted by an older couple who reminded me of my grandparents. Maria Antonia, or Marita, wore a tea length, almost retro, floral dress and her marido wore shorts and a polo top with high socks. We were welcomed with the traditional dos besos per cheek and proceeded to answer a myriad of questions about our wellbeing and the flight in our rusty Spanish.
We took a taxi to their apartment because our heaping pile of luggage was the only passenger that could fit in their modest white ranchero. As we wound through the outskirts of Sevilla it reminded me of so many places I had been before. The dry and bare patches of land gave me memories of Israel while at the same time the tall apartment complexes and myriad of overstuffed shops reminded me of Greece. When we reached the centro of Sevilla it was just as I imagined it and at the same time completely different. Architecture with Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque influences. I don’t even have time to describe the beautiful colors, immense detail, and ornate archways and gates of the buildings. We arrived at our new apartment which is situated over the River Gaudi in a neighborhood called Los Remedios. The apartment is small, like most in Sevilla, but it’s very nice because Eliza and I have our own bathroom which makes it feel more personal and private.
The first day seemed overwhelming because we had been up for so many hours, but nonetheless we ate a modest lunch of macaroni and cheese (not the kind you would imagine) and napped for two hours. Afterwards we decided to search for toiletries because neither of us had brought soap or shampoo. The JYS handbook reassured me that Seville would have everything and after a period of doubt before arriving I began to convince myself that it was a modern city and I would be fine. Not exactly the case…
After going to three or four perfumerias, or stores that sell make-up and toiletries, I could not find anyone who sold Neutrogena products. Finally I asked a clerk in the store if he knew where I could purchase it. After repeating myself several times I become frustrated and tried to explain that it was a very popular global brand. Finally he looked at me and said, “Ay Ay tu quieres Neutrogena” like New-Trow-Hey-Nah. I had forgotten to pronounce it in Spanish…my very first Spanish language faux pax. Nevertheless I went to the pharmacy that he suggested and they still didn’t have it but the assistant recommended something similar.
Friday was exhausting because we had orientation all day long which included a lot of lectures on how to get a cell phone, safety, the purposes of orientation, and expectations–how they will and will not be realized. After a brief almuerzo we continued orientation information and other preliminary things. Friday night many of us met in front of the JYS office to explore Sevillan night life. We ended up going to several bars on “La Calle Betis” which boasts “Euromania” deals and is very American. It was super lively and exciting especially because its not a covert operation to get drinks. It didn’t feel very authentic but it was interesting to mingle with the group in a more relaxed setting and have the opportunity to chat with some sevillanos. While they were practicing their english, we were attempting to practice our espanol.
Everything seemed like a dream: the way the Rio Guadalquivir was lit by the street lamps, the way the Torre del Oro glowed majestically over the city. Everywhere I walk I feel like I am part of some romantic comedy and the city is my new lover. I can’t wait to show all of you how beautiful it really is.