Europe, Travel
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Semana Santa in Sevilla

First bullfight of 2015. Apparently the hashtag was #tardedetoros. More below.

Gotta love predominantly Catholic countries for giving you a week off from school. When I was in Argentina, I also enjoyed a week off for Semana Santa, or Holy Week. In that case, it was also a non-spring “Spring Break” given that I was living in the Southern Hemisphere. But I digress.

I have been itching to get over to Andalucía ever especially since visiting Morocco back in November. From mosaics to the doors to the Arabic script to the courtyards to the overall Mudejar style…something just fascinates me. Mostly the geometry and the colors more than anything.

My parents and I arrived in Sevilla on Friday evening–just in time to catch one of the evening processions. Over the course of the week, more than 60 floats organized by local brotherhoods pass through the streets. Some weigh more than a couple of tons and they are carried by teams of guys who train for several months late at night. I didn’t remember enough from my Sunday school days to fully understand all of the scenes depicted on the floats we saw, but the visual impact was quite striking–hundreds of people in black robes and cone-shaped hats signifying penitents (not KKK members) followed by lots of drums and then a huge wobbling float like this one.

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On Saturday morning, we had a walk through the Alcazár, a royal palace which also happened to be the shooting location of Game of Thrones Season 5. I am a sucker for courtyards with symmetry like this one.

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We also wandered through the Jewish quarter.

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And through the Santa Cruz neighborhood. Which reminded me somewhat of Cartagena (Colombia) mashed up with Colonia (Uruguay) for the colors, the street signs and the flowers.

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We sought refuge from the intense sun in a lovely little courtyard and tucked into some seafood paella for a late lunch.

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And kept hydrating (it’s important, people) while looking up at the cathedral.

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In the afternoon we managed to bump into (more like hear) another procession on the street, but there were also seats for sale (no shade provided…) in front of the town hall.

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And walked around/under this strange contraption called the Metropol Parasol which apparently has caused quite a controversy among the locals. I can imagine why.

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To top it all off, we went to a bullfight on Easter Sunday. I was a little bit iffy about going but decided that it would be worth making my own judgments after seeing the event for myself. The scene before the fight was quite amusing. Everyone crammed into tiny brick seats, lots of old men in blue suits smoking cigars and drinking rum, and women fanning themselves.

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The costumes that the matadors and his assistants wore were as tight fitting as men’s clothing can be, beautifully ornate,and they also had some crazy pirate-esque hats going on. There was a an order to everything: run the bull around/ stab him in the spine from atop a horse/ run him around some more/ stab him with these colorful pogo sticks in the spine/ bring the matador in for some footwork and then stab him with a sword in the spine/ wait for the bull to die/ drag him off.

It was pretty gruesome. And I didn’t clap. I saw a woman in the row in front of me look back at what must have been my horror-stricken face and shake her head at me like “You don’t understand.” I didn’t say anything back, but I did see both sides of it. I saw the art and the precision and the tradition of it all. But I also saw scared, quick and beautiful animals that were killed unfairly and deliberately. So I could say that was my first and last bullfight.

Next stop: Granada.

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