Well, my first day in Sevilla was nothing less than what I expected it to be: incredible. After an entire day of flying and sitting in 3 different airports, I finally arrived to Sevilla. As we started to descend I could see fields of green, beautiful mountains (for those of you in FL, I know an elevation, WHAT?), and some beautiful buildings that stood on the opposite side of town, it was the perfect mix of rural and urban.
After getting my bags and meeting with the staff of SSA, whom so graciously made sure we got in a taxi that would get us to our homesteads safe, I took off to the apartment that would become my home for the next 6 months. The taxi driver was extremely nice, he asked the cliché questions- “where are you coming from?, what are you doing here?, etc”, but he also made an effort to explain some of the city’s architectural art, some interesting facts about Sevilla, as well as something that I’m so thankful to know now… Sevilla’s streets are full of these beautiful orange trees, they are literally everywhere, and when I saw them I couldn’t wait to be able to eat a freshly picked orange, but that bubble was popped really quick as my driver saw my eyes of excitement.“Don’t eat those oranges” he said, “they look good, but they are wild oranges and will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth for weeks”… So there goes my fresh orange. After finding my house, I met my host mother a sweet, mother of 3 who welcomed me into her house with open arms and a smile, Silvia. She showed me around the house and took me to my room, where she suggested I rested a little before eating lunch and heading to my orientation at SSA.
Fast forward to orientation, I met the group of people I’ll be spending the next couple of months with, got acquainted with the Center of Cross-Cultural Studies (which If I may add is insanely beautiful [pictures to come]) and took a tour of some of the most important/historic sites around the neighborhood.
After 3 hours of sitting, listening, and walking it was time to head home. My host mom had walked me to the center from our house and explained how to get back, but on my way back I decided to walk with 2 fellow “El Centro” neighbors (the neighborhood my house is in), and go into a store to buy some food we needed for the weekend. Now, Sevilla is full of narrow streets, that end at random places and start in places you can’t see, the street signs are extremely different from those we see in the US. Street signs are these ceramic tiles glued on a wall on the corner of every street, so it can get very confusing to find the right street to be on. The 3 of us decided it was better to try to walk together as far as we could so we would have a smaller risk of getting lost. Well, yes you guessed it (and if not re-read the title of this) … I got lost, not just lost for a few minutes with that “where is my mom at the supermarket when I need to pay” kind of feel, but miserably lost for 2 hours. After my friends and I separated, I started following my map, and every time I followed a direction it would change the route… It was a disaster. After 30 minutes of walking around up and down the same streets getting mixed directions, my phone died. Now I really was screwed. Let me add the fact that I was carrying two 1.5 Liter water bottles, and they were extremely heavy. By this time, I had gotten way too far from the area I was familiar with and I had no idea what to do. I started following a huge crowd, and by this point, I was literally sweating, the walk was supposed to take me 15 minutes and I had been furiously walking for more than 40. Finally, I found an ice cream shop, and asked the worker if she had any idea how to get to my street, DUN DUN DUNNN… she had no idea, but she saw how desperate I was and kindly pulled out her phone and looked it up. After seeing that in order to get home I would have to follow an endless number of short streets she told me to go down a very congested and long avenue all the way down to a gas station, and there ask how to get to my street. By this time, it was probably 8 o’clock; I had left my friends around 7 and according to my map I was supposed to be home at 7:15 (lol that didn’t happen). So, I’m walking down this scary avenue, which was kind of dark, very congested and seemed to be endless, I see a couple walking in front of me and ask them, they tell me they have no idea, but after (again) seeing my face of desperation the guy said that it might be a block away to the right… ok, thanks dude. Finally, I get to the gas station, and at this point I see 2 older men about to cross the street, I stopped them, and asked them if they knew how to find my street- “Well I’m not familiar with Sevilla, but my phone can find anything” said the older man, and at this point I knew there was still some hope in humanity. He instructed me in how to find my street: “make a left at the light, then walk until X street and turn right there and it should be to the right”. So I did exactly what he told me to do, and after 2 hours of walking around in circles, triangles, trapezoids, squares, any shape you can image, I made it back home in time for dinner.
Getting lost wasn’t fun at all, I mean I was tired, scared, and those water bottles were heavy, but seeing how friendly and willing people were to help allowed me to see that side of Sevillians I had heard so much about. When I read that Sevillians were some of the friendliest people in Europe I didn’t believe it, I figured it was a marketing strategy to attract more people to the city, but it is true. I mean how many of us would actually stop in the middle of our busy days to help a lost teenager find her way home?? Yeah not that many of us.
This weekend my orientation continues, and as we take some tours of the city I will post more pictures, but for now enjoy this quick picture I took of the Cathedral, the 3rd largest cathedral in the world, beautiful isn’t it?