When Life Gives You Lemons in Seville

Prolog

Lady luck hasn’t exactly been shinning on me this week, dear readers. Meanwhile, there was definitely nothing wrong with the city of Seville itself.

One of my biggest pleasures became to walk in the huge park Maria Luisa south of the Plaza de España. Almost every day I wandered through it. Also, there wasn’t a single street in the city center that I didn’t find in some way beautiful. I loved just walking on endlessly exploring my way randomly; occasionally taking my time sketching and painting watercolors as much as possible.

However, two major events during my otherwise exciting week in the magical Seville weren’t exactly very pleasant. I don’t want to reveal everything already but if you’re patient I promise to relief the tension in the following.

 

 

Hostels & Biscuit Cake

As mentioned I spend the first days getting to know the city by way of strolling through stunning parks and striding down every pretty street – in effect every street.

One time I found a very chic looking restaurant and ventured in for the menu of the day, or in Spanish ‘menu de dia’. They are often very reasonably priced meals including starter, main and dessert. The dessert was a very delicious chocolate cake with biscuits in, reminiscent of a classic Danish cake called ‘kiksekage’ – or directly translated: biscuit cake.

I felt very strange in my stomach that evening and now I suspect that biscuit cake to be some distant relative to the tartar from hell I encountered in Madrid. Having underwent the sad sensations of food poisoning not that long ago, I reacted much faster and bought bananas, a special hydration mineral water and rice noodles to take care of my sensitive stomach.

Sadly I only got worse for a few days and then I had to move hostels as I had booked two different ones. I managed alright, optimistically hoping the sickness would leave the next day. The bad health went on anyway though. All I was really good for was staying in my dorm close to a bathroom and watch Netflix.

 

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One day I felt alright while having interesting and pain-distracting conversations with a guy who travelled around as a street musician. During our talks I used watercolor to sketch the new hostel’s garden; as well as some portraits of K whom I missed greatly.

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Nevertheless I soon noticed my illness again and I stopped believing I would just suddenly get better, so even though I had hoped to avoid it, I decided to go to a hospital and get help. Like in Madrid they gave me a bracelet and I had to wait for hours. By the end of it the doctor told me there wasn’t an infection and he prescribed me probiotics – the opposite of what I expected, after having received one for antibiotics the last time.

 

Even if I didn’t feel much better right away it did give some peace of mind, that a doctor had examined me and told me what to do. Instead of me waiting and wondering, browsing through random knowledge about possible reasons for my stomach trouble online – which of cause only resulted in me getting more worried.

 

An Uninvited Hostel Visitor

The very same day I came back from the hospital, an uninvited visitor came to my hostel.

I had installed myself in a pleasant hammock in the garden next to a palm tree. While swaying ever so slightly I attempted sketching the head of a statue I could just barely distinguish on the roof.

 

 

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Study of palm leaves

Soon I noticed a young Spanish looking guy in a blue shirt smoking cigarettes on the stairs close to the main entrance. Later the smoke smelled sweeter and I suspected he was smoking a joint. Well, that was none of my concern. I continued sketching until I felt too tired and then I went to my dorm to go rest.

I put my phone to charge and had to do a quick stop at the bathroom before anything else. Leaving the door to the dorm unlocked I hurried to the nearest bathroom. As I came out soon after I saw movement to my left, a blue blur in the same shade as the smoking guy’s shirt, darting into the other bathroom – for women.  Slightly puzzled but mostly just tired I went back to my room.

Right behind me followed the smoking guy and he then started explaining in a bad mix of Spanish and English that I shouldn’t leave the dorm door open and unlocked. I was confused by his urgency as he was gesticulating violently. I told him I only went to the bathroom for a minute – wasn’t that alright? He stod awkwardly and then just nodded and left.

‘Maybe he jumped into the women’s bathroom earlier, because he was feeling weird about how he was preparing to tell me off about not closing and locking the door before I went to the bathroom?’ I thought to myself. My exhaustion soon stopped me thinking more about the issue as I sank down into the bed in order to nap. Unfortunately I didn’t even get time to get the pillow right before the blue shirted guy came back. I just exclaimed ‘Ola!’ half by surprise.

He laughed in a weird loud way and proceeded to lie in one of the beds that were left empty the day before. He was still wearing all his clothes and shoes. Within minutes he was snoring. ‘This guy is really annoying’, I thought while sighing internally. His snoring kept me awake.

I grabbed my Kafka book, The Trial, that I’ve been trying to read during the whole trip but haven’t gotten far in, and headed back to the hammock. Only about 15 minutes later I see, in the corner of my eye while reading, a glimpse of him walking past me and exiting the hostel.

‘What’s with this guy?’ I mulled over his behavior. Although I’ve meet many weird people at hostels this guy was the most unpredictable one yet. ‘Did the weed make him first tired then hungry? That fast?’ I kept wondering as I read the last paragraphs on the page and got ready to head back to my room as it now was free from snoring.

What met me there was far from relaxing though.

All the lockers had been ripped open and my things had been pulled out of my bag and scattered about. ‘He was a thief!’ The realization jumped into my mind fast as lightning and I ran to the reception to tell them there had been a robbery.

The receptionist ran back with me to the room and of cause saw that there had indeed been a robbery. She sighed and held her head as she explained that there was a hostel thief on the loose in Seville doing exactly this – posing like a guest, sneaking into rooms and stealing. Only after she had left to call the police, I started looking through all my things.

Luckily my passport and money were hidden in my bum bag and he hadn’t stolen them. The only thing I couldn’t find was my Canon camera. It had been a gift from my father who’s very passionate about photography and I was of cause sad about it being stolen, but the most unpleasant aspect was the mere fact that that guy had touched and looked through all my things.

When the police arrived the receptionist had to act as a translator to my description of the thief, since they didn’t speak English. They didn’t stay to give me a police report such as I would need for my insurance company, so I had to walk to the police station.

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The police officers at the station were very kind and I was even interviewed by the ‘police boss’, such as he introduced himself as. He was the only one not in a uniform and also the only one who spoke alright English – hence the reason he was interviewing me. I said everything I remembered and filled out tons of papers and signed even more.

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Ironically the walk to the police station was almost the exact same I had done earlier when I went to the hospital, only five minutes further. I was struck by the almost tragicomically nature of my day: two times I had to walk almost the same way from my hostel – for two different crises.

That day was probably one of the most disastrous I’ve ever had.  At least all these new experiences will probably toughen me up. Going to the hospital in Seville wasn’t half as hard or scary as in Madrid; mainly since I had tried it before. Maybe by the end of this trip, I’ll be skilled at handling many different types of crises by myself in foreign countries. That’s a useful skill for someone like me who loves travelling!

As you might notice, I’ve deciding to stay positive! It’s a few days ago now, which makes the optimistic approach easier as I’m not completely and utterly frustrated anymore.

 

Getting Better & Getting to Know L

The next days I slowly got better. Not completely well in the stomach but I had much more energy and focus and I started walking around the beautiful city again. In a cute shop with colorful clothes I bought some postcards with black and white photographs from Seville – similar to the ones I bought in Fez just with Spanish content.

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I went back to the cool café I mentioned in my previous post to paint after the postcards with watercolor. While painting I started chatting with an English guy called L, who had quit his job to move to Spain and learn Spanish. We connected quite quickly as I explained how I had also quit jobs in Copenhagen to go on my art travels.

The day after we went sightseeing together; we went walking on top of a modern mushroom shaped building with a beautiful view of the city. Later we also visited the modern art museum CAAC that was located in an old ceramics factory that had been a monastery before that. The building itself was fascinating enough, but we also saw some intriguing art and we had photo sessions in front of a wall with tiles and another wall with plants on.

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Another time L and I were back at the cool café where we had first met. I painted with watercolors while he studied his Spanish lessons. Before I attempted a portrait of L, I started sketching some of the furniture and the table in front of me.

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Chairs, tables and gate
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Table with my stuff

An older Spanish man came to talk to me about my watercolors at one point. This was because he painted himself. After having looked through my pile of pictures he showed me some of his watercolors on his phone. They were filled with green leaves catching sunlight in a local park.

When I told him I was from Denmark his eyes lit up. He explained he had fled Spain during the civil war because he was against Franco. Later he had received asylum in Sweden and still today he had a great love of the Scandinavian countries. The interesting talk with the older man inspired me and I started sketching and painting L with renewed energy, while he studied with great concentration.

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Sketch of L

When it was done I offered the painting to him and luckily he got very grateful. L talked about how he needed some art to put in his new home while in Seville. It made me glad to see he appreciated it. I like the thought of something I painted hanging in a room, making that room feel more like a home.

 

Epilog

My time in Seville, although in some ways catastrophic, ended nicely this way. I’m left with a great tenderness towards the city. I really want to come back as soon as possible; hopefully while being healthy and not getting robbed!

But for now my time in Seville is done. To save some money I decided to do an all-nighter in Seville Airport before I fly to my next destination: Berlin!

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Seville Airport by night

Originally I was to stay in Berlin for some days but I’ve changed my plans a bit. You see, dear readers, I miss K terribly and Berlin is dangerously close to Denmark. It just so happens, that K has an internship as a teacher at a school near Aarhus – and that there were very affordable plane tickets to Billund also near Aarhus!

So naturally I just couldn’t resist. Before I ventured out on my travels I had sort of silently promised myself not to go back home before the very end. Technically I’m not going home though – because Copenhagen is my home! Aarhus is Denmark’s second biggest city and I’ve only visited it shortly before and I’ve always wanted to get to know it better.

By now I’m sure you all see how this change of plans is actually the best choice of action in several ways.

 

So next week I’ll be writing to you about my creativity travels in Denmark!

 

Yours

Cille

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