‘You like the Spanish cigarettes‘?‘ he asks. whipping the brand new pack of Fortuna Blue from my hands. L'nwrapping them he runs his broad Cordovan snout over their fresh heads. ‘Mmmm.’ I mumble between mouthfuls of Rioja. ‘Me too.‘ he says mournfully. ‘I gave up five years ago. but I still love the smell.‘ Suddenly he laughs maniacally. his eyes flashing with pride and good old-fashioned insanity and I remind myself that my friend is directing planes down to the runway at Seville airport in less than eight hours. I shudder.
Into the night and out of the Baroque splendour of the Italiano Restaurant we have been drinking dry for the last few hours. The air is thick with Moroccan Black and Two Stroke. We stumble through condensed broken streets towards the New Bohemia. Twisted Moorish architecture adapted for Catholic purposes. the Moors themselves long extinguished because they would not adapt the way their rich heritage has.
Finally — the Alameda de Hercules. A huge sandy square. mecca to crusties and hobos alike. bracketed at either end by Roman columns. Youths spill onto the pavements outside every bar. tinkering with mopeds. waving at taxis or testing out their weedy car stereos with the latest Oakenfold opus. Mostly people are just tucking into sweet smelling cones and chugging Cruzcampo. This is Saturday night in Seville and it feels great. Half our number install themselves in La Habinilla. a bar playing host to the largest
108 THE “ST l8 lan—‘i Feb 2001
street crowd. Myself and Ricardo elect to stay outside and smoke ourselves into oblivion between tray-delivered beers. Our crowd grows bigger. broken Spanish and clumsy passes drift into the fog above us. lids heavy, Vespa pitta pat. unfinished beer. darkness.
Awake. the fear. sunlight is kicking into me in unison with an almighty hangover. Sevillians have been going about their pious Sabbath duties for longer than I‘ve been asleep. I know that everything but the Moroccan markets will be shut today but with cancerous logic I decide to go sightseeing.
Street level. bright pain. Thank God this city is so ﬂat. First port of call is the Cathedral — licking its way up and out of the Santa Cruz area it is not difficult to find. More than can be said for trying to get in as it is closed for restoration. I manage to get as far as a quarantined reception area where moustachioed members of the Cathedral Information Agency tell me to go away. Before leaving I glance up and see those Mudejar towers bold as Othello with Christian Gothic festoons nibbling decoratively at their heels. What breath I have is taken. Out on Mateous Gago I look back again and there it is — the Giraldo Tower. a finger up to modernism and the highest point in Seville’s self restricting skyline. I swoon — this time from nausea. Carry me feet. carry me . . .
I‘ve been sitting here for about an hour trying to work this map out. The hour before that I think I spent in Los Jardnes De Murillo.
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Helen Monaghan lived in Spain for six months.
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
The highlight of Spain’s religious calendar is undoubtedly Semana Santa, With the festiVities in Seville being by far the most magnificent. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, hundreds of brotherhoods process in penitence from their church to the cathedral. Winding through the city’s intricate maze of narrow streets, 30 or so men carry pasos (floats) bearing images of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary upon their shoulders, and together With the sinister-looking hooded Nazarenes, many walk the route barefoot. To the ViSitor, Semana Santa is perhaps one of the most intriguing but spectacular festivals you’re likely to witness. The proceSSions, which set off in the early hours of Good Friday, are definitely w0rth getting