I had three tasks to fulfil this afternoon, all of which remain undone to nag another day. Instead, I went out into the wild gale that had woken me more than once in the night. It was strangely enticing – an Andalucían storm.
Que vientoso! This was the only shot I’d initially set out to take today, one to illustrate the mad wind.
I wanted to get some more postcards to send home so headed for the touristy district surrounding the Cathedral , then decided to wander on into Barrio Santa Cruz, also touristy and the surest place to lose your bearings in a flash. Narrow alleys of meandering trajectory, designed to keep out the choking summer heat; high, blank walls masking lush, fountained wombs from the curious flaneur.
But, I digressed… into monochrome. These iron sun-ray semi-circles that commonly designate the division between buildings in a block, actually remind me of Havana. Of Calle Virtudes and my wonderful ‘casa particular’, where you could see these same things from the roof terrace.
The city took me by surprise when I reached the outer edge of Santa Cruz and crossed over a busy road into an area previously unknown. The transformation was stark – in a few steps from sightseers paradise to urban, recession reality. Abandoned factories, Soviet-style tower blocks on the horizon; sirens, smashing glass and yells of what I knew without doubt to be aggressive drunks, all carried on the screaming wind. It’s the first time I’ve stumbled upon a part of Seville like this, and I must say, I liked it.
‘The rich Spaniards die first’. Seville, I think, likes to think itself a bit ‘pijo’, a bit superior. But ‘la crisis’ looms here just as hard. There’s a lot of homeless in Sevilla, and this abandoned market, scrawled with anarchist graffiti (most less incendiary than the above) strikes as one of their many haunts.
I’d already decided to shoot in monochrome due to the cloudy weather and resulting poor light. I couldn’t have done justice to the yellows and reds of the stucco, the oranges in the trees (the streets stank of oranges today, by the way, cast from the trees by the storm and smashed upon the pavement). But now I started to wonder if perhaps I just like to seek out the dark in places. Here I am, seeking with intent to turn up the dark side of the colourful crown of Andalucía. This says more about me, of course, than it does about Sevilla.
I have a fascination with the undersides of bridges. This one made a welcome reprieve from the picturesque history of the centre.
Rain started to spit through so I turned back towards the Old Town. As I crossed back over the main road a jogger came the other way. Statuesque; not Spanish. I caught his eye; he looked Irish. He smiled at me, and left me wondering just what it is that I want…
Blowing in the wind – storm-blasted palms, shedding debris all over town.
On the way home I stopped off for a merienda (afternoon tea, usually consisting of coffee and cake, to tide you over until the late Spanish evening meal) at a place opposite the Cathedral. Good service is hard to come by here, most ‘hospitality’ staff suffering from catatonic indifference. But the first time I went into this place, after a morning of frustrating bureaucracy when I’d only just moved here, I hadn’t even got my coat off and the waiter was there to ask what I’d like to drink. The same guy was working this afternoon and despite the place being packed full, he acknowledged me right away. A blue-eyed man, sallow-skinned, heading towards middle-age and carrying a little weight. My favourite Seville waiter so far (even more than the beautiful boy who served me on my first day here, so beautiful I couldn’t even get out the words ‘quiero pagar’).
I tried to lurk in this road end, waiting to better frame the next passer-by. It seemed wise to call a halt to this, though, when a scooter came racing round the corner. Playing pedestrian (or dim-witted photographer) in Sevilla is not the safest pursuit.
I was sat in a stool facing the back wall, the only free seat. At first this seemed a terrible position for people-watching (surely the best thing about stopping out for a coffee), but there was a small, immaculately clean mirror on the wall in front, positioned perfectly, like looking through a letterbox onto the café behind me. It seemed a great opportunity for a few sneak-shots, but alas, the camera battery did what it had been threatening for over an hour, and died.
Religious motifs and icons for sale. Que católico…