The Spain I have come to know over the last 30 some-odd days is not the Spain I learned about in history classes. In history we were told that Isabel and Ferdinand told Columbus to sail the ocean blue. In history classes we were told that the Spaniards gave our ancestors Catholicism and smallpox, and if we are tall or have light skin, we must be Spanish. And there is history behind this. However, that is not the Spain I met over the last month.
The Spain I have come to know tastes like tinto de verano and helado. The Spain I know tastes like everything doused in either mayonnaise or olive oil, and served with a side of pan.
The Spain I met here is the frustration of having something to say – but not having the right words to say it in Spanish. On the flip side of the coin, the Spain I know is also the sweet victory in every successful act of communication, no matter how small.
The Spain I met smells like smoke and sometimes food – and each city has its own smell as well. The pomegranate flowers in Granada, the barrels of sherry in Jerez, the salt water on the coast.
The Spain I met sounds like the accordion man playing some tunes on the sidewalk, and the squeak squeak squeak of the street performers. It sounds like the soft whir of bicycle tires creeping up behind you, the metro whizzing by, and waking up to the sounds construction as the construction workers belt their favorite American tunes.
Aquí en Sevilla, people care about strangers, and look out for one another. Like the time a man arrived to the Sevici station at the same time I did, with only one spot left, yet he still helped me put my bike in the spot, and then went in search of a different station nearby.
Aquí en Sevilla, we are usually in a drought, yet there is always water to spare for the beautiful fountains.
Aquí en Sevilla, people from Triana are obsessed with Triana, and the city even recognizes this with ¨Sevilla y Triana¨ metro stops. They really do think they are their own city.
Aquí en Sevilla you stumble across a gorgeous procession with tons of people and animals and a Macarena and beauty and think, ¨Oh cool, look, it´s a procession.¨
Aquí en Sevilla ¨ISA¨ is pronounced eeeee-saaahhh.
My Spain is the feeling you get kayaking under the Triana bridge at sunset while conversing in Spanish.
My Spain is riding a bike along the streets and feeling a breeze on my shoulders.
My Spain is walking past Plaza de España every day on the walk to school.
My Spain is good hair days every day thanks to the of the lack of humidity.
My Spain is walking everywhere, and wearing jeans in 100 degree Fahrenheit weather.
My Spain is learning and practicing so much Spanish, using grammar I had once been afraid of and having conversations in the language longer than I ever had before…. and then when someone complemented my Spanish, all I had said was tinto de verano. (go figure)
My Spain has the best ice cream I´ve ever tasted.
My Spain is nights spent hanging out with Mama Carmen, host mother extraordinaire.
Not too long from now, it will be time to say goodbye. It´s impossible to describe this country, or this city, in words or pictures, but I have tried my best. I already know I will miss Mama Carmen, tinto de verano, living a stone´s throw away from plenty of picturesque, beautiful sights, and the ISA staff. I am very grateful to have had this opprotunity, and still think I may be dreaming. What I do know is this: a piece of my heart will always be aquí en Sevilla.