Sevilla – The Flower of Spanish Beauty and Culture

Seville, Spain is incredibly beautiful. I’m very happy to be here even though finding a place to stay seems to be a bit of a challenge. If I had the money, I would stay in a beautiful Seville hotel or vacation rental, but this trip, my budget is set.

While I am out of Morocco and very glad to have a little break from the constant circus, sadly, there was a bit of a tragedy before I left. The first of the Vagobunnies were born on one of the coldest nights I’ve been there and when we found them, they were all five dead. We hadn’t expected them to birth so soon and hadn’t made adequate preparations. It was a real bummer to dig their little pink bodies out of the straw.Two more rabbits are pregnant though and Hanane tells me we also have several new chickens that just hatched from eggs as part of our farming project. And I finally remembered to take a picture of my famous camel hair blanket from Fes!

Yesterday I woke up, said see you later to Hanane (cause I will see her later) and her Mom and then caught a petit taxi to the grand taxi to the train in Fes to Tangier where I caught a boat to Tarifa in Spain, by that time it was a little after 6 pm and I was fairly tired so I got a pretty nice room, had a hot shower (a real shower!) and ate a bad spanish pizza. I think, on the whole, Spanish food is pretty bad.

After that I slept like a log in a bed with a real mattress and woke up to toss a coin to see whether I should head to Lisbon in Portugal or go to Seville first. Heads told me to come to Seville so I rode the bus for four hours after having some coffee and a pastry and waiting in windy Tarifa’s sorry excuse for a bus station (it’s a bus stop really!).

The bus ride was comfortable and I arrived in Sevilla at 4pm where it is hot and there is some sort of big festival about to take place. Lucky break that, except the hostels have jacked up the prices 25% because fo the demand. No biggie on that one though, the festival might be worth it.

The trip across southern Spain was uneventful. Tarifa looks very much like Lahaina in Maui and has most of the same surf shops. I sat on the beach for a bit this morning and enjoyed the wind and sand.

As for the rest of southern Spain, it seems dirty, smoggy, dusty, and not very picturesque. I didn’t have high hopes for Seville, but arriving here, it seems pretty nice. Lots of sunbathing in the park, beautiful architecture, and even a mosque they stole from the moors and converted to the worlds third largest cathedral.

The Cathedral reused some columns and elements from the mosque, and, most famously, the Giralda, originally a minaret, was converted into a bell tower. It is topped with a statue, known locally as El Giraldillo, representing Faith. The tower’s interior was built with ramps rather than stairs, to allow the Muezzin and others to ride on horseback to the top.

In doing a little digging, I find that this was the home of one of the greatest Sufi mystics ibn Arabi (aka Dr. Maximus)

A vastly prolific writer, Ibn Arabi is generally known as the prime exponent of the idea later known as Wahdat-ul-Wujood, though he did not use this term in his writings. His emphasis was on the true potential of the human being and the path to realising that potential and becoming the perfect or complete man (al-insan al-kamil).Some 800 works are attributed to Ibn Arabi, although only some have been authenticated

Also it was the home of Ibn Khaldun, the first real anthropologist, so my forefather by educational lineage.

…an astronomer, economist, historian, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, hafiz, jurist, lawyer, mathematician, military strategist, nutritionist, philosopher, social scientist and statesman—born in North Africa in present-day Tunisia. He is considered the forerunner of several social scientific disciplines: demography, cultural history,historiography, the philosophy of history,and sociology.

Also Seville is the setting for Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor in which Christ returns to earth and is arrested

The main portion of the text is the Inquisitor explaining to Jesus why his return would interfere with the mission of the church. The Inquisitor frames his denunciation of Jesus around the three questions Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. Thus, he implies that Jesus, in giving humans freedom to choose, has excluded the majority of humanity from redemption and doomed it to suffer.

Seville was also the famous home of Don Juan, the world’s most notorious lover.

Don Juan is a rogue and a libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women and (in most versions) enjoys fighting their champions. Later, in a graveyard Don Juan encounters a statue of the dead father of a girl he has seduced, and, impiously, invites him to dine with him; the statue gladly accepts. The father’s ghost arrives for dinner at Don Juan’s house and in turn invites Don Juan to dine with him in the graveyard. Don Juan accepts, and goes to the father’s grave where the statue asks to shake Don Juan’s hand. When he extends his arm, the statue grabs hold and drags him away, to Hell.

(Originally Published 03 APR 2009)