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Colin Field. Semana Santa was approaching quickly and Seville was the place to be.

London is not a city to be lucky in. Everyone seems to be down on their luck in London. I was no different; living in a tent in Wormwood Scrubs, East Acton, with a whole range of riff raff: french gypsies, new age travellers, european hoboes. We were all broke and looking for work. I had been lucky enough to find a job as a bicycle courier. But the night before my bike had been stolen. From right under my nose. I think it was one of my new so-called friends. A week earlier I had arrived in this filthy but lovable city, virtually skint after arranging to meet her here. And live with her.

I was hopelessly in love. Yet, upon meeting her below that lonely statue of Eros, god of love, amongst the black cabbed busyness of Picadilly Circus, I knew something had changed. Double deckers whipped by, choking out their blue-black diesal, the flickering neon bulblights taking on a gloomy hue, we sat sadly; two lovers knowing the end was near, vacantly watching the punks, sleeping, drinking, smoking, while a constant pulsing of tourists flowed in and out. Snapping shots of the infamous congestion; our sad faces captured forever in their cliched souvenirs. She had met someone else. An italian.

I had just crossed the Atlantic for her. I walked the fifteen kilometres home, throwing the necklace she had given me one lovely day in Spain, into a rubbish tip along the way. A symbolic gesture in which I attempted to free myself of the loss I was feeling. But it would not be that easy. I had left my home and family for the idealistic belief in a perfect love. In our cultural mis-communications we had each imposed on the other our own ideals of perfection. The naivety of young, cross-cultural love. I realized I had never really known her. I had fallen in love not only with a woman, but a city. And the two were inseperable. I knew my misfit friends would soothe my spirits with a hobo's lively eye and a bottle of cheap British cider.

After cycling through West Africa and Morocco for four months, the ferry trip back across the Straits of Gibraltor and into Spain was easing on the mind. The bright green of a European spring and all her intricate luxuries had been dreamt of continuosly for these past sixteen weeks. Behind me lay the dusty pestering streets of William Burrough's Interzone some forty years on. I lay on the rear sundeck, admiring the Moroccan flag flapping violenty; her red with enchanting muslim star, contrasting against the perfect deep blue sky. I was looking ahead to a few weeks of selfish indulgence. I awoke to the sounds of the port city, Algeciras, and knew the next few days would not be easy. I was in a rush to get to Seville. Semana Santa was approaching quickly and Seville was the place to be. It was 270km away. 270km of the most boring landscape Spain had to offer.

Long hills that seemed to wind up and up endlessly stood between me and the city. There was something more than Semana Santa pulling at me. From Algeciras I rode west to Tarifa before heading north to Seville. Tarifa is famous for having the best windsurfing in Southern Europe. Unfortunately the reason had only just dawned on me: wind. The mountainous coastline fouught with me at every pedal stroke, the wind slowed my descents; it was an epic struggle. I was lonely and miserable. In Africa I would often reach a quiet rhythm; a meditational state where my spinning legs were a mantric metronome, the dry mud village scenery merely feeding stimulus to my dreamy visions; village children and shepherds waving from off in the distance. Silently beautiful. But now I was in a rush. It was as if stepping from one continent to the next had instantly changed my outlook. No longer was I in a continent where people had no money but plenty of time; I was in a continent where people had plenty of money but no time. I was affected upon contact. After twelve hours in the saddle, covering nearly 140km, I sat down on the roadside to a humble dinner of sardines and bread. Night fell quickly, I laid down my blanket under the cover of some lonely cork trees, watching the bright purple sky as it faded to black and splattered with stars. I drifted into troubled roadside dreams while thinking of my real reason for rushing to Seville: Cristina. The woman I had met seven months earlier on what was supposed to be a short visit.

I remembered how much I had loved her and the city.
E-Mail from Seville (October 10)
Hey y'all! Sorry about the generic E-mail. I am currently stuck in Seville. It is such a great city with incredible nightlife. Last week I partied with thousands of Spanish students in Plaza del Salvador. A huge open air square where everyone drinks, smokes and laughs before heading to the nightclubs. And to think we can't drink in public in Canada! The women are amazingly beautiful, and friendly to boot. I've met a great woman, Cristina, who is a flamenco dancer and she is making it extremely hard to leave here. I'm such a sucker. But it really is a romantic city. I can feel the old road calling my name again, on to Morocco and West Africa, and I feel like I'm in Lynyrd Skynyrd's song 'Freebird.'
"Bye Bye baby, it's been sweet lyin'..." I may have to come back here after Africa! Anyways, hope you are all well, Adios Amigos!!! Colin.

Awakening to the sound of a semi-truck roaring by, I began packing my panniers knowing another exhausting day lay ahead. But the goal was extremely clear. Mile after mile of vast agricultural Andalusia passed slowly by. The mile markers my only source of entertainment. An entertainment I viewed with love and hate simultaneously. At times the kilometres flew by, but, for the most part they passed with a painful slowness. My lethargic stubborness pushed me on and just before night fell, after a 130km day, I could see the outskirts of my favourite city. I was exhausted and exstatic. I had awaited this day for months. During Semana Santa, people from around the country and the world, flock to Seville to witness the great floatlike pasos lifted through the cobbly tight streets. Famous effigies of Jesus' crucifiction or the Virgin Mother in scenes just before the end, tower above the crowd as they are lifted and carried along; a form of penance for the carriers. These one float parades go all day and all night, old and young in attendance in the week before easter. For a week I met her every night at the cathedral. The beautiful Sevillan church towering above me, the arabian Minaret of the Giralda dwarfing me I would sit waiting; resting on great ancient chains that surround the building. Cigarette in hand, I would watch lovers strolling by, meandering through the character laden reality that is Europe. Character, character everywhere. In everything. And the lovers were always beautiful and for once I had no qualms with public displays of affection. The city was too romantic to scold it. Horses would clippedy-clop along with buggies of tourists, while a struggling musician would blow sad familiar notes on his sax; sending echoes softly bouncing amongst the ancient cobble-stoned night.

She was alway late, but I didn't mind. I had nothing else to do. Sitting within sight of some of the most beautiful structures in Seville, the warm night breeze blowing softly, I was happy just to watch the Spanish world roll by. I reflected on friends who would complain about how long it would take their wives or girlfriends to get ready to go out. I would always say to them, "At least you have someone to wait for. Be thankful." And I was. Then I would see Cristina. She would walk slowly over, and my smile would grow genuinely. Her dark brown hair falling gracefully around her face, her pouty lips serious and driven. A quick °ola" with a kiss on each cheek before I began falling further in love with her troubled english. Every night her beauty would surprise me, in her european styles of tight shiny black pants and tight shirt, great clickety clacky boots, whose sound themselves could turn me on. Some gently coloured scarf hanging lazily around her neck a thigh lengthed jacket of shiny black leather. We would soon be walking the twisting sevillian streets, me thinking all the while, 'I am the coolest person on earth.'

There is nothing that will ever compare to walking the streests of Spain with a beautiful lady on your arm. Nothing. We would take romantic strolls through the labyrinthine streets, the old jewish quarter, Plaze del Salvador, past magnificent court yarded gardens. Ocassionally we would stop and listen to the music wafting through the night from off in the not too distant past. And the night would always end with a peaceful smooch on the stairs of city hall, as we awaited the arrival of her bus. The Carboneria was a flamenco pub in the old Jewish Quarter, where every night flamenco singers wailed away painfully, straining their throats and veiny necks while the guitarists picked and slapped away at strings. Ad hoc performances of Sevillianas would spontaneusly erupt amongst the younger crowd who were full of a deep culture I had never witnessed the like of in Canada. Old men with little caps and cigars would clap complex and happy rhythms in time with the music, raising their arms with a careless, "Ole!" Red wine flowed freely and cheaply and I sat staring into my beauty's eyes. She had just explained to me, in her stuttering english, the significance of Semana Santa and asked, "In Canada, what you do for Semana Santa?" Flabergasted, I searched for the words while images of the Easter bunny kept thumping across my mind's eye. The realization that I had spent my childhood looking forward to Easter because of chocolate eggs that bunnies laid seemed shocking in my present surroundings. Here the historical and cultural depth of europe made my Canadian home seem extremely pathetic and shallow. I was forced to explain the significance of the Easter Bunny. Yet I don't think there is any significance to it.

Then, walking through streets, always lost, always found, constantly blocked by the Sevillian Semana Santa, great pasos floating mysteriously by in the incensed sparkiling night; mass crowds formed everywhere while a thin trickle of masked adherents slowly, silently, with great candles in hand, moved through the silent crowd, like blood pumping rythmically through a vessel. The procession would pulse as each floatlike virgin or son of man would be lifted then set down as the men gained strength to lift and proceed with the monument.

Crossing these veinlike processions was difficult and frustrating; the crowds were thick and stubborn. Hand in hand Cristina dragged me along, she was fumblingly drunken, her sexy european boots beautifully impractical. Blistering her temper and her feet.

I saw a virgin slowly float by ghostlike. In my stoned daze, I watched silently in a state of mental purity. Merely five feet away, I stopped, and looked behind me, my hand in Cristina's, as she urged me to move on, through the crowd. Away from the pasos and on to the discotheque. The innocent virgin, lifted up and drifted, without a sound, not a noise, only to disappear behind the cold Sevillian building on the corner. The holy virgin sunk into the silent throngs and the yellow ancient bricked night of Seville. Around the corner from Plaza del Salvador, where I met her, is a bust of Cervantes. His infamous character, Don Quixote is a permanent source of entertainment to me. His deluded fantasies in which he fights dragons and windmills, all in the name of chivalry, are absolutely hilarious. All for a woman who barely knew he existed. We stopped and I told her how funny I thought the book was. She knew the stories well. They were a strong element of Spanish culture, but she had been forced, in school, to read the book in old spanish. And I suppose the humour was lost on her.

© Colin Field. 2001

*This is Colin's first article for Hackwriters if you enjoy it email him or us at

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