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1997 Spring in Santa Cruz

1997 Spring in Santa Cruz

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Published by agdeagreda
A vivid description of Seville by a local "poet".
A vivid description of Seville by a local "poet".

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Published by: agdeagreda on Dec 06, 2010
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12/06/2010

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Spring in Santa Cruz
 For the stroller enraptured by the intoxicating aroma of the
azahar 
1
in the pearledand crimson environment of the old and narrow alleys of “Santa Cruz,” time stops andthe imagination flows, ebbing into a world of pure sensation. The magic of the guitarswith their moaning arpeggios that convey the tragic-comic sense of life of the people ofSevilla does the rest.Santa Cruz is a quarter situated in the heart of Sevilla, a city of more than onemillion souls, a cross-roads of civilisations and cultures that strives to step onto the trainof progress as the capital of Andalucía, the southernmost region of Spain. Santa Cruz isone of the oldest quarters of the city, a swarm of little streets and alleys, now and againslightly widened by small squares, where the life bursts out in talk and trade. Once thehabitat of the most popular layers of society, Santa Cruz is today home to artists and well-to-do young professionals. Nevertheless, there are still people who resist the rapidadvance of money and real estate development. The architecture of its houses isreminiscent of the Middle-Eastern pattern of a central courtyard, or
 patio
, toward whichgalleries of windows converge, central to the life of the house’s inhabitants. Antiques,crafts, taverns and inns, form the landscape of the community’s trade. In every corner ofthis little redoubt, the mixed heritage of eight centuries of Jewish-Christian-Arabcommunity reveals itself in a unique way. White walls, bright red geraniums gracing thegrilled windows, narrow alleys that protect against the unbearable inclemency of thesummer heat, transport the stroller into ancient times where the whispers of lovers werethe only music to be heard.The day in Santa Cruz is very different from its nights, if not less exciting. Duringthe day, the alleys of Santa Cruz witness Japanese, Germans and other tourists, wanderingwith their cameras… but the night belongs to the citizens of Sevilla.The cool spring morning surprises Sevilla, only eager to give way to a hesitant sunwhich ventures its steps into the Callejón del Agua (alley of the water), where silence isonly broken by the murmur of water, from a fountain concealed by the stonewall thatguards the
Reales Alcázares
2
and its beautiful gardens. Venturing a little farther, the
 Juderías
, once home to the Jews who peopled this part of Sevilla, whose walls still rumble
1
Orange-tree flower
 
García-Orrico–Spring in Santa Cruz, Sevilla–Page No. 2
of those prayers and persecution that conformed their future, and where now antiques’shops welcome experts and amateurs alike.A cold beer and a
tapa de jamón serrano
3
 
fill the first break in the working day ofmost sevillanos, who very often replace their meals by several tapas. In the
Plaza de losVenerables
, a little square that receives its name from an old convent turned into amuseum that features Easter celebrations in Sevilla, there is a tavern that gathers localsand foreigners alike, the
mesón de los jamones
, and welcomes its visitors under a curtain of
 jamones serranos
that hang from the ceiling.“Life went slow, one could talk to his friends, events were easy to understand,nobody was in a hurry,” says an old man recalling the past as he sits in the late afternoonsun at one of the tables outside the
Hostal del Laurel
, once home to Miguel de Cervantes.Bells toll and he tells us he has to leave to meet his wife at the cathedral gate to go to hismother-in-law’s for dinner. The next stop for tapas is
Las Teresas
, another tavern in anarrow alley, where students talk about the next holidays after their exams are over,surrounded by mosaics and ironworks.Once the sun disappears, the
sevillanos
leave their homes and join the springevening, and wander along the alleys.
"Pandite nunc Helicona, Deae, et cantus movete,"
4
said Jose Blanco White, a British-Spanish writer, paraphrasing Virgil, as he arrived in Sevilla in 1806. And indeed, the silenceof the alleys is broken by the magic of the mixture of the
azahar 
and the flamenco guitars inthe
Plaza de doña Elvira
, where stone benches, geraniums and a finely crafted iron cross meetthe furtive glances of the plaza’s inhabitants and by-passers in the late hours of the evening.Here, courting and provocation show the timid steps of a group of teenagers who,intoxicated by dreams, beer and the sweetness of the
azahar 
, mix with the night in ritualdancing, at the rhythm of a
sevillana
that shatters the silence; one of many types of flamenco,the sevillana is danced in four steps reminiscent of the steps in courting --perceiving,
2
Arab-built royal palace
3
small portion of food; Jamón –ham–serrano refers to the procedure of drying the pork leg in the cold, bathedin salt, in the mountains, especially famous is the one from Jabugo, town of the South West of Spain
4
Goddesses! Open Mount Helicon and inspire canticles (Helicon was home to the muses). Eneid, Book VII.

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