Saturday, February 26, 2011

sunbathing alone

My last night in Seville, two American girls checked into my room.

"Where are you from?" I asked.

"Ohio," they said. "You?"


"Do you play euchre?"

Dios mio. I would'ved run at Olympic speed down to the shops below for a deck of cards and a bottle of riojo, but alas, we didn't have a fourth (the skinny, 4-eyed German girl with the Schopenhauer paperback didn't look eager to learn regional card games). Me and the Ohio gringas sat up talking. When asked why I'm traveling, etc., I don't give my gloomy specifics. Just traveling, I say ("Oh, are you, like, finding yourself?" a California girl on a Seville walking tour asked me). But when my Buckeyes asked, I gave them the brief sketch: traveling in Morocco with Bryan, his death, the ashes.

"That's intense," one of them said.


It was almost as good as a conversation I'd had earlier in the day. Walking in Seville, a rabble of pubescent boys came at me, rambling in Spanish. I smiled, no habla espagnol, and kept walking. "English!" one of them called. I turned.

"We are... we have... gymkhana," he said, extending a piece of paper to me. "Can we take a picture with you?"

I asked what a gymkhana was, and from there group attempt at explaining in painful English, it sounded like a kind of scavenger hunt.

"So you need a picture of an American for your gymkhana?"

"No, not American. A person... who is.... a person from...."

"Foreign!" another yelled.

"The feet!" cried another.

"A picture of a foreign person with..." His friends yelled, helping him find the right word. "Las sandalias," he finally said.

"You need a picture of a foreigner in sandals?"


I agreed. A 12 year old Spanish boy slung his arm around me and another snapped a photo. They thanked me and I walked on, captured for Spanish middle school posterity.

I had hoped to go from Seville to Barcelona. I woke up painfully early, hefted my bag to the train station, and got in line. But the 8 o'clock was full and the rest were high speed trains at twice the price. I didn't throw a dart at a map of Spain, but I looked at the departures board and decided on Cadiz. Travellers I'd met in Andalucia said it was not to be missed-- glittering coast, relaxed vibe, plenty of sun. I found a hippie hostel run by an aging British surfer with a rooftop terrace to dull the ache for Morocco: hammocks and potted plants and French kids bumming cigarettes from each other. Perfect.

I've been wandering around, taking long walks on the beach (Spanish girls sunbathe topless-- the Midwestern, euchre player in me is scandalized by this), languishing in the hammock with books and sangria. A vacation in a vacation. Resting up for Morocco and the sensory demands of the Marrakesh souks, I think.

Yes, Morocco. Monday.


  1. Someday you will turn your travel tales into a book, perhaps fictionalized, and I want to be the first to read it!

  2. Wish you had a copy of that picture of you and the spanish boy. That would be great to see. I'm sure your male readers would prefer to see the topless ladies.