Who doesn’t love a field trip? Two weeks ago, I saved myself a bus ride to Villarrasa when the 1st through 6th graders at my colegio paid a visit to none other than my city of Sevilla. I met them at Jardín Americano, where we began our excursión. Jardín Americano, or American Garden, was built for the Seville Expo ’92 to celebrate Spain’s founding of the Americas (Columbus sailed from Spain, doncha know?) by showcasing species of plants from North, Central, and South America. It was abandoned after the exposition but has recently been revived, although its somewhat remote location and the lack of information online makes me think it’s something of an undiscovered gem of Sevilla.
We walked around the park with a tour guide, taking a look at a variety of plant species, like green oranges from Louisiana, and a Peruvian tree. No sign of any Californian plants! I suppose the ecosystem is too similar to that of Spain for Californian plants to seem all that exciting to Spaniards. It was a brief tour of the park, but I enjoyed walking around armed with a basic knowledge of botany from a geography/environmental sciences class I took this past year at UCLA, plus it’s always fun being around my students.
We had a brief recreo at a playground (Spaniards eat a large lunch much later in the day, around 2 or 3, but I’ve been surprised to find that during recreo, around American lunch time, most students eat a sandwich; so it’s kind of like they have our version of lunch followed by their version of lunch) and then hopped on a bus across town to see El Mago de Oz, The Wizard of Oz. The play was performed at a children’s theater, so the audience was full of other colegios on a field trip like us, and was not your typical Wizard of Oz. Many of the characters were played by people in dark suits holding life-sized puppets (think Avenue Q but less vulgar, or Jason Segal’s Dracula musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and, while it was still a musical, familiar songs like “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” were replaced by original flamenco songs, complete with live musicians. The Spanish flair was pretty nifty.
(I’ll leave out the photo of El Mago de Oz since I wasn’t supposed to be taking any. But, shh, you can see one in my Facebook album.)
I said farewell to my students, who were all fascinated by the idea that I would be walking home from there. Starving, I thought to myself, “Man, I’d kill for a kebab right now. I so badly wish I would stumble across a kebab shop right now,” and, lo and behold, a minute later, I found one and had my first kebab since returning to Spain. Delicious. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. I should mention here that kebabs in Europe are not kabobs (or shish kabobs) as we most of us know them in the U.S. Instead of grilled meat and vegetables on a stick, it’s kind of like a Turkish version of a gyro: a pita-like bread stuffed with meat shaved from a vertical spit (had to look up the term for that), vegetables, and sauce. Kebab restaurants are an ultra-popular form of fast food throughout much of Europe, although, sadly, I’ve been seeing a lot fewer kebab shops in Sevilla than I did in Madrid or Granada. Anyone in Sevilla have any recommendations for fabulous kebabs, preferably near Triana?
Later that night, I met up with my friends and fellow auxiliares, Alex and Allie, and we had tapas at a restaurant in Triana that has free flamenco shows on Thursday nights. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to have a good view of the dancing, but just being around flamenco music makes me supremely happy.
Next up, my trip to Lagos, Portugal!