Two things to know when you visit Seville: first, on the ubiquitous tourist map, north is not up, and second, don’t take anything personally.

I didn’t realize the thing about the map on the first day, simply because I didn’t really care where I was anyway. I set out in the correct direction relative to the train station, got to the center of town, got lost, found a hotel, and hung out. It wasn’t until today, when I had a specific place to be, that the map caused problems. As a result, I spent a couple of hours I could have been seeing cool things being lost. Oh, well.

As for “don’t take it personally,” I had been warned ahead of time that the residents here can be downright rude. I met a couple of very friendly, helpful people, but there were a couple of times I experienced the true Seville welcome. I think there is a dictionary of the looks they give you that I don’t know. I went into a little place to buy a bottle of water. There were other people there, so I set the water on the counter. The girl behind the counter stopped what she was doing and looked at me. To me, the look meant, “What do you want?” Apparently the look meant “You need to stand there a bit longer.” I opened my mouth to say that there was nothing besides the water, and she interrupted with “Just a moment.” Fine. She took money from the guy standing next to me, gave him change, and stopped. She stood, unmoving, looking at me. “This is—” I started. “JUST A MOMENT!” “Ok! Ok!” I said, waving my hands. She stood longer, waiting to see if I would say anything more, then very, very, slowly started to fill the other guy’s order, pausing every now and then to stare at me.

Not long after that I was in an electronics store, and the clerk looked past the people standing in front of me and hit me with a stare. Were it not for the fact that the others moved out of the way for me, I never would have recognized “May I help you?”

But that, I suppose, is Seville.

The city itself is impressive, and I regret only scratching the surface. The city center is one of the largest pre-car warrens of alleys I’ve ever seen, and it is great fun to just wander around. There are beautiful gardens and parks, and that Mediterranean sun just can’t be beat. But while I’d like to stay, Vejer calls and I must answer.

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