Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flamenco bootcamp and rain falling from the skies

Granada is definitely the place to be fore anyone with a romantic heart and mind....it is a truly beautiful city. I arrived late Monday after a 7 hr bus trip from Alicante...a drive that should normally take about 4 hrs. I got in late in the dark and was a bit nervous trying to navigate through the narrow cobbled streets around the cathedral...incredibly beautiful but very shadowed...to find my pension that Martin had set me up in. After searching aimlessly I found it in the opposite direction to where Martin told me to go...typical man-woman communication perhaps? LOL.
I am staying at the Hostal Zakatin run by a Moroccan man. It is hidden in a pedestrian alley that is chock full of Middle Eastern and Indian imports during the day. So many trinkets and treasures to behold...I feel like I am back in Morocco!
Tuesday was the first day that I had to explore the city. I arose early to get to a market to get some fresh fruit and then headed off to a yoga class, which I found eventually. The class wasn´t what I had wanted, but it was a good wake up to a body that sat in one position for 7 hrs yesterday. I was able to follow most of the directions which was good but I did have to peek over to the students on my sides to make sure that I was oncourse with everyone else.
I spent the remainder of the day roaming around the Arabic quarter, eating my first meal since Monday (a delicious and heavily seasoned falafel...bliss in a mouthful) and observing the passersby. Granada is an interesting mix of street kids with dogs-on-a string, high society types whizzing by on high heels, students hanging out in gangs, hippies relaxing in the square, and tourists. This is prime tourist season as the weather is MOSTLY agreeable (more on that later) and warm. The summer its hot, but not as hot as other places in Spai where the country just sizzles....
I met up with Ana who is a French girl who is a flamenco dancer/teacher here in Granada. We met for a coffee and chatted about life here in Granada. She encouraged me to come take a class with her at her studio prior to our private lesson...I was a bit nervous but figured Hell I´m here to work and learn so lets go!
Anas studio is a gem in the city where flamenco is abound but studio space is impossible. Apparently the reason that makes finding a dance studio so impossible is the noise factor - people call the police to complain about the noise and the police shut down the dance studios. Ana´s studio is in the basement of an artistic building on a very nondescript street off a plaza.
I went with Ana to the studio and met the other people who were there for the class with devastatingly handsome Pepe- a Nazi of a flamenco instructor! I was really nervous when I realised that I was totally out of league with everyone else, but Ana stood in front of me so that I could catch the footwork. Pepe´s feet sounded like a hammer, every sound was distinct, deliberate, and fast. At first the warm up was something that I understood and could do with ease but once the class moved into harder technique and then a choreography I was lost. But I took it in stride and attempted to complete what I could. The class was also spoken in fast Spanish so I was really concentrating on what was being said so that made things a bit slower for me. But I was really proud of myself afterwards and committed to coming back for the rest of the week. I am here to get my butt kicked right, so I may as well be submissive to the experience. Pepe encouraged me to come back and not too worry as the class have been working on this for weeks.
I took a private lesson with Ana afterwards and it was really good to work with her as she was patient and really funny. She switched into Spanish so that I can start learning faster. I am as determined to learn spanish as I am to getting better in flamenco so really now is the right time to learn both. Ana has taken me under her wing and is helping me get sorted in the city. I may start to teach a belly dance class in her studio 1X a week so that I can come into Granada, teach and take some flamenco classes. It is very important for me to keep active in dance as being in mountains can really turn one into a couch potato.
I wandered the city after my dance class and got caught in a few major rain storms.
I did not pack any proper shoes aside from a pair of flipflops and my heeled red shoes...somehow I figured that the weather would be the same in the mountains- hot and dry. Well I was really really wrong, even though the weather is warm the rain has been falling down in torrential downpours to the point that it bounces off the ground and big mean puddle form in a matter of seconds. Everywhere you turn you see African men standing on the corner selling knock off brand name umbrellas and I´ll be damned if I´m not tempted to buy one!
I arose early this morning to tryto get to an ashtanga yoga class but alas it in the evening so I´m left to my own devices. Probably wandering the city, have a few plates of tapas and off to flamenco in the early evening. Tonight Ana and I are going to go to a flamenco jazz bar to check out some music and take a load off. I´m thankful for having met her as shes lived here for 8 yrs and knows the city inside out.
Other than that I´m doing well and happy. Martin made it to the UK despite the volcanic ash problems and has started his first day of college today. I hope all goes well for him, he was nervous about his essay so hopefully it all came together in the last few hours (that man loves to work under pressure seriously).
I´ll report back in a few days, until then Adios!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Villajoyosa - City of Joy

I am siting in the perfect Bohemian apartment tucked away by the sea, tired but happy after a lovely dinner on the terrace with bits of rich wine and a lazy meander through town. The scene is Villajoyosa, a quaint and crumbling gypsy town sandwiched in between the infamous "shagging towers" of Bendidorm and the bustling city of Alicante. Martin and I arrived about 8 pm, and parked our car by the sea. I caught sight of a lone couple necking on the rocks and pointed them out to Martin with a mischevious comment.
We made our way through the cobble stoned and narrow streets flanked with crumbing multi coloured buildings painted in electric blue, rose pink, terra cota orange and buttercup yellow; rod iron terraces strewn with laundry; old women sitting on their doorsteps watching the world go by; gypsy children running through the plaza; a chicken tethered to a string surrounded by people; flamenco guitar floating through the air; and the brisk sea salt twang in my nose. Ahh its so nice to be back near the sea.
Martin's friend Mark decided to live here after literally pulling off the road on the way to Barcelona one he saw the sign on the motorway for Villajoyosa- City of Joy. Mark found the perfect treasure here...not too far from Alicante, but far enough away to get a genuine feel for this little town. Its absolutely charming in every glance, and very idealistic in a genuine way about old Spain. Mark has settled here and has written and directed a fabulous and touching 14:53 minute short film that will be entered into film festivals all over the word. Wonderful film.
Villajoyosa may have come by its name quite honestly. It is known to be the Chocolate City of Spain. Villajoyosa has imported chocolate from Ecuador and Venezuela starting in the 18th century. Mark told me that about 2 days a month the entire town reeks of melting chocolate, and his mouth was watering so much that he was looking in windows trying to figure out where the smell came from. I hope to be so fortunate when I awake tomorrow morning!
I am off to Granada tomorrow for 7 days of flamenco. Martin is heading back to London for school till the 17th of May, so I decided to hit up the infamously beautiful city of Granada and get incorporated with the flamenco scene there. I have been in contact with a girl Ana whom I met on Facebook via my friend and previous teacher Ana in Vancouver. Granada Ana has agreed to do intensive private lessons with me in addition to taking her technique classes so I am very excited. I am also excited but very nervous about practicing my Spanish- it is amazing being with Martin as he is fluent but it is time for me to learn as I really want and desire to speak Spanish. So me going off on my own and getting to know a city and people in another language will be an adventure in itself. I am also looking forward to doing some yoga there in Granada, and hitting up the only authentic (and open!!) Moorish hammam (bath).
Being in Spain has been amazing- it has been so lovely to get back and reconnect with not only myself but with Martin and the village. The days go by quickly but are relaxing and filled with things necessary to life- preparing food, cleaning, watching the mountains and the sunset, early to bed as to arise early the next morning. The mountains are vivid and always changing, and the only noises you hear are the birds singing or the goats bells as they wander down the rambla on the way to a green pasture. Its a very simple existence, one that I didn't think possible to live. But I am very happy and content at the moment, and the fact that I can get up and see a spotless blue sky, sun on my back, and birds song in my ears while savouring a cup of tea is full contentment. And not one that I was to relinquish too soon.
Anyway off to bed...Happy Mommas Day to you all.