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It has been a hectic rest of the year. I don’t think I’ve stopped to breathe since moving again in September. A lot has changed in my life, and I am still trying to figure out where it all fits. So when painter and friend, Alejandro Botubol,  invited me to a ferris wheel ride, I thought it would be a great way to see a different perspective. Sevilla, being one of the world’s heritage sites, has no buildings taller than the Giralda. Near sunset was definitely the perfect hour to go, with the sun setting the sky ablaze in the horizon.

Christmas Fair Rides

Skating rink gives a more winter feel.

The Cathedral and the Giralda as seen from the ferris wheel.

Sevillian sunset.

Painter Alejandro Botubol.

A russian friend of mine recently asked me to update her model book and wanted to incorporate this beautiful city of Seville into our shoot. I am quite pleased with the session we had. Here are some of my favorites …

 

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I was lucky enough to be hosted by someone who had a spectacular view of the city of Segovia. This is one of the most memorable sunsets I have ever seen.

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The Feria de Abril of Seville is THE biggest social event of the year. Residents spend the whole year pinching pennies and preparing for this festive week of food, drink and of course, Sevillanas, a traditional dance which is a branch of flamenco, named for the city that made it popular. Over a year ago I was invited by my then roommate to his families traditional feria preparatory lunch. Which is to say, they shake out the dust from the costumes and accessories, prepare the outfits for this year’s festivities and have a similar lunch as to one you might have in the casetas (tents), followed by a good round of Sevillanas. The afternoon turned into a good opportunity for me to do some portraiture, working with mixed natural and basic, harsh house lights.

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A few months ago while looking for some old correspondence in my Gmail account, I came across some emails that lead me to my old blog. I had completely forgotten that I had started one before and it had gotten misplaced in my head somewhere in the last 3 continents.

Before moving to Vitoria, Brazil, I was a mental wreck. I had a huge loft to myself filled with clothing (I was a girly girl back then, the Imelda Marcos kind of absurdity) and hundreds of books – not to mention art supplies, darkroom photography supplies, and archives.

In the midst of the disaster, somewhere between crying and calling Goodwill (or was it Salvation Army?), I sat down and found humor in my misery …

The 5 Stages of Packing

(First published February 28th, 2006)

Whilst packing for what seems like the 45th time in the year, I had come to realise that packing follows the same 5 stages as grief. I will emphasize:

Denial

– Denial that the baggage limitations have changed
– Denial that suitcases are really made just those sizes

Bargaining

– One starts to bargain one item for another (”this top would be more practical since it goes with more pants than this top …”)
– ”But, but, I could really, really use 5 pairs of flip flops while I’m there”, ”We could be trapped in a monsoon!!!”

Anger

– One starts to be angry with themselves for not being able to live without such unnecessary items
– One starts to be angry with inanimate objects who just don’t seem to shrink or fold as much as one would like to
– One becomes angry with the airlines for putting such ridiculously small baggage limits
– One starts to stop, push, punch and use other forms of violence in order to make more space in the luggage

Despair

– One feels pain for having to leave so many things behind
– One feels a sense of deep loss for said objects
– One becomes anguished with this loss

Acceptance

– One accepts that need is more important than want and has to choose items based on this fact
– One bids farewell to excess baggage (and in this case, literally)
– One consoles oneself that ”hey, if I miss something, at least I will have an excuse to shop”

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4 summers ago, I was a starry-eyed girl just starting to soak up the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of this wonderful city. I had just barely started to learn Spanish, navigate myself through the maze of old moorish maze of streets, or get accustomed to the Sevillian lifestyle.

My dear friend Carlos had warned me, it gets hot. Really, really hot. And everyone leaves and the city is left with the ancient ghosts of Romans and Phoenicians (ok those are actually my descriptions). I of course thought he was exaggerating, and did not heed his words. I am of course from the tropics and I could take it, and this city didn’t seem like a desert at all.

So I had decided to stay in the city for the summer of 2008. I was then working in a fine dining restaurant called Tribeca, and I didn’t want to leave the job I had just found to fund my European adventure.

Sure enough, it got hot. It averaged between 43°C – 47°C degrees (109°F – 116°F), with a couple of days hitting the 50s (122°F+). And everyone did leave. I was left not only with the ghosts of the city’s previous invader’s and occupants, but with a hodgepodge of people’s pets (well someone had to take care of them while the smarter ones fled the infierno in pursuit of cooler pastures).

It sizzled, it scorched. I learned. I learned which times of days to do your shopping. The time of day to nap. In the silence and lack of company, I studied my grammar and my vocabulary. Under the cover of the cool night, I learned the map of the city streets while walking a friend’s dog. And this way, the city became mine.

We’d somehow always end up by the river – me and Casper, the dog. The light breeze at night somehow always leads one there. And I took comfort in it. I treasure that first summer I had. Because it gave me the time, and the solitude, to really look around me and absorb just how beautiful this city that I had just then started to call home is.

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Photos taken with my then new Olympus Tough 1030 SW

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I have to confess that despite having been living in Andalusia for 3 years, I have never made any cold soup to save my life. There is always someone (Andalusians are fanatical about making you their version of gazpacho or salmorejo, or at least bring you their mother’s) around to make it for me. In a daring move, I set out to make a gazpacho today, but not the traditional recipe with tomatoes, but a variation using melon. I tried it in Madrid last summer, and the sweetness of the fruit and the saltiness of the ham is an addicting combo (think prosciutto with melon, in liquid form). Its quick and easy to prepare. I threw in a whole melon, a clove of garlic, dash of olive oil, and salt in a blender, liquified and after it cooled in the fridge, topped it with Iberian ham.

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Cupcake cravings …

While chatting on the phone with a pregnant friend of mine, the subject of cupcakes came up (as it always does with me and adding a pregnant woman in the equation does not exactly make the topic farfetched). I haven’t been in a baking mood lately and with the summer heat blanketing the city, it’s unthinkable to even think of firing up the oven. But I do miss these moist mocha cupcakes I made over the winter. I used a basic chocolate recipe and added brewed coffee and walnuts and a tad bit more butter. They turned out moist and rich and with an incredible coffee-chocolate flavour.

I love walking around my neighborhood. Not just Seville, but pretty much any place I’ve lived in the world. I’m one of those people who walks everywhere. I hardly take public transportation, I don’t drive and after getting a few bikes stolen, is over having a bicycle.

I was feeling a bit melancholy the other day. So I grabbed my camera and went for a short walk to visit a friend. Sometimes that’s just all I need, some fresh air and see how beautiful things are for their simplicity.

I woke up thinking of guitars today, and Google seems to be on the same train of thought as today is the anniversary of Les Paul’s birth.

These were taken years ago, during my days as a downtown LA loft-dweller.