I walk through the twin-columned portico of the School of Spanish American Studies and down the steps into the garden. Beds of roses flower beneath tall, stately palms, swaying in the breeze. Rafael, a retired concierge, once showed me a photograph of himself when he started working there. He stands, more a boy than a man, among the palm trees, which rise above him, but not by much. Now they soar into the sky, towering higher than the building itself and the adjoining church. The school's marble fence posts, a row of nine, used to be linked by thick iron chains, which children swung on before they were chased off. Word has it that those marble fence posts once were pillars lifted from the ruins of Itálica, the city that the Romans built not far away.
I turn right as I exit on Alfonso XII, and right again at the corner where Santa Vicenta María begins, named after the founder of an order of nuns. My morning's work in the Archive of the Indies fruitfully concluded, I'm heading off for lunch. Three narrow streets and the edge of a plaza take me in a near-straight line to the heart of San Lorenzo, the neighbourhood in Seville where I spend the winter.
Nothing in my Scottish roots-1 was born and raised in Glasgow--would appear to connect the two cities, separated by language and myriad expressions of culture. Yet the street I grew up on in Govan, where my father's grocery store linked us to families and livelihoods, attitudes and circumstances different than our own, is never far away when I stroll through this barrio of Seville. The trick is to relish the so-called small things in life for the great gifts they are, the mini-marvels of human interaction foremost of all, what can transpire in a snip of conversation, an offhand remark, a curious look, a fleeting observation or a passing thought. Spaniards know how to live in the mode of a moment, none more so than the people of Seville.
F IRST ON MY LEFT is Eladio's Peluquería, a salon with a sign advertising its services in English as "Heir Dresser." Manolo, my barber in Seville, scribbles the appointment that I make with him, one Saturday each month for the four I am usually here, on a scrap of paper, recording it as...
This is a preview. Get the full text through your school or public library.