A snapshot of a different culture from mutantspace skills exchange member Roggernaut who has recently moved to Seville in Spain
Most people sleep. It’s still too early, especially for Spain. The sun won’t show for hours. I look forward to its early morning warmth. Now, I just glimpse the cool, hushed blue of dawn, through an open shutter of my kitchen window. Apart from the cicadas stridulating inside the old gardens of Pedro I and Carlos V, cultivated some 500 years ago, a few steps down the alleyway, and over the palace walls, I think I detect the faint scent of Jasmine and bitter oranges wafting in, accentuated by the yet, unspoilt air of a new day. The restaurant that has always been, across from me, on the other side of the alley (the alley is about 1 metre wide) begins to stir; I hear the steam and grind of coffee in the making.
The small cleaning trucks have come and gone; they usually buff and suck the cobblestones in the unseen hours. The alleyways of Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter of Seville, are too narrow to receive refuse trucks. Instead, strategically placed about the barrio, are what look like thick periscopes, made of iron. Residents put their bags of refuse down these chutes. Refuse dispensers then suck the rubbish from these underground pits.
I went out for breakfast this morning. It was about half seven. It was still dark. I turned left at the end of my alley, onto Callejon Del Agua (the alleyway of water). This alleyway borders the gardens of the Real Alcazar (Royal Fortress). It used to be a moat. Strolling along this alley, you are overshadowed by the impressive, fortified wall of the royal gardens, and looking up at it, you can see the tops of various species of ancient trees; certainly Pine, because the fragrant scent of it is always drifting through the alley. I imagine this is where the Cuckoo bird was ensconced (not yet mentioned). The fortress was originally built by the Almohads, Moors from North Africa, who made Seville their capital in the middle of the 12th century.
Pedro I (I believe also infamously known as Pedro the cruel) ordered the construction of a royal residence for himself, within the original Moorish palace in 1364. Within the space of a few years, a precious jewel box of Mudejar (The Mudejars were Moors who remained in Spain, once Christians began to rule. Their distinctive style of architecture is characterized by the use of small ceramic tiles, and plenty of arches and patios. The world famous Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain exemplifies some of these characteristics) arches, small passage ways, and patios had been created.
Later monarchs, such as Isabel I and Carlos I (the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) gradually added to it. Isabel I dispatched navigators, such as Christopher Columbus to explore the new world from her Casa de la Contratacion (Literally, room of contracts). The Real Alcazar is like a minature Alhambra. There is a patio known as the patio of the dolls. It’s known as this, because hidden somewhere within the intricate carving of the pillars and walls, are the tiny faces of two small dolls.
The receding night was a deep, clear royal blue; the stars were still scattered in a twinkling, above. The cuckoo could be heard. Los Jardines de Murillo were quiet, apart from a few early dog walkers, and the occasional jogger. I passed by the centre of the gardens where one of Columbas’s best known galleons of discovery, the Isabel, sits about 20 feet in the air, cast and sculpted in iron, skewered by two supporting pillars. In a few hours, the heat would be building, light intensifying, and hordes of tourists ambling about. I found an old bar with a long counter, tucked away in a cul-de-sac, not far from the cathedral.
The rambling of Spanish news punctured the air, mixed with the sleepiness of early morning desayuno; the huele of fresh coffee, toasted bread, the lubricated goodness of extra virgin olive oil, infused with wild garlic and the frecosity of red-ripe tomatoes. There is a timelessness about Seville; some things have not changed. The natives are fiercely proud of their heritage and traditions and this is one of the primary reasons why so many visitors flock here throughout the year. As I peered down the bar, where once tongues of smoke would have laced the air and contemplated the blue dawn, resting on the cobbles, at the entrance a horse and carriage clopped by and the bells of the cathedral began to peal. In a time when so many things are going out of date so quickly, when complex aspects of identity are no longer stable, but dissipated in the winds of putative progress and innovation, I found myself in a state of contented slow realization, like mud settling in a country brook: rightness, well-being, rootedness, truth, tradition, value, identity, nowness, beauty, were firming up the bed. I slapped my 2 Euros on the counter and walked out into the waking city with the first visitors beginning to trickle out from their pensiones.
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