Late July 2013
They are 2nd cousins to me on my mother’s side. They put on a great spread for us at the home of Mari Loli (a sister of Manny) and her husband Jesus (a property developer and antiquities collector). In the late afternoon Manny, his wife Maria Jose, his aging mother Mari Reyes, Rachel and I raced out through scorched landscape in his doomed car – one eye on the road and t’other on the temperature gauge.
Mari Loli lives on the outskirts of Seville in a grand, patio-d and tiled two story home with large swimming pool with their two children: daughter Lydia and son Jesulito. Lydia’s novio Elio (a budding artist) and a couple of friends (Luis and his novia Rocio) were also at the gathering. There was a sister missing, uninvited due to some family dispute. The food was great – tortilla, olives, salmorejo (a tomato, red capsicum, egg yolks, wine vinegar, garlic and bread soup served cold), barbequed pork, spicy chorizo, ensaladilla rusa (a potato salad) and of course, bread. Dessert was a slab of ice cream between wafers. There was, naturally, wine and beer. We had a table tennis championship, but I was out of practise and have booked a rematch. Loli’s husband Jesus has done well for himself, but is also a collector of ancient things and has a veritable museum of Roman and pre-Roman things which I find fascinating. A lot of it is, indeed, stuff which should be in a museum, but I won’t go into that. He gave me some more Roman coins for my collection too. Nice bloke. The evening ended with the ladies dancing flamenco, with the men singing the coplas unaccompanied. They were all clapping to a complex beat. Old Mari Reyes (Rocca) was a Flamenco dancer in Gib as I said, and her daughters were taught the art; the mother still dances with grace. Mari Loli has passed the skill onto her daughter Lydia. It was a real visual and aural treat for Rachel and me. We’ve been invited to stay with them on our next visit – cousin Manny has no room, in fact his apartment is very small, but quite typical of a lot of Spanish folk. We’ll see. We like to be independent.
Seville has recently completed the construction of an amazing bit of modern architecture in the very centre of the old city. Locals refer to it as la seta, or, the mushroom. Overground, in a swirl of white ribbed steel you can walk around and up to a height where you get a great view over the whole sprawling city. We noted with pleasure that there is one – only one – modern glass office tower (a bank!) in the whole of the city; Seville had determinedly retained its ancient, low-rise architectural integrity. But, below ground, they intended building a car park. They got about four metres down and found they were uncovering Roman remains (not unusual round these parts). Construction came to an abrupt halt and plans were revised. Two years later and way-the-hell over budget, they opened this architectural marvel with a Roman palace uncovered and available for the public to view (for a very reasonable 2 Euros each) with some almost complete, large mosaics, artefacts, walls, baths, water systems etc. Or, above, you can walk about looking down upon it through glass. I found a bar/restaurant (unfortunately closed at the time) situated brilliantly above these remains over a glass floor. Imagine, 2000 years of history beneath your feet for you to ponder upon, with a drink in your hand and a tantalising, tasty tapa or two within arm’s reach to distract you. Hmmmm?