A Tribute to Sevilla, Spain & Mi Gente

If Paris was the intense, elegant, somewhat intimidating sister, Sevilla was her charming, beautiful sibling. But when Spring came, they both transformed. Paris into a seductive dream of warm, playful decadence, and Sevilla into an exotic fantasy of colors, music and the intoxicating smell of orange blossoms.

In the thick of writing an academic article about child marriage in Pakistan…so revisiting one of my favorite places in the world, my second home, was a welcomed reprieve.

Today is the last day of La Feria, the spring festival that embodies so many of the things I love about Sevilla. So here are some fun pictures of Ferias past and ‘mi gente’-dear friends, now family- I’ve known and loved for over two decades…

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Mi gente from this year and Ferias Past (mejor amigo, Oscar and I, his wife and daughter, Alejandro & Valen dancing ‘the Sevillanas’, and ‘los chicos’…

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La Giralda

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My first Feria in ’98

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My beautiful friend, Araceli…a patient soul who taught me the Sevillanas

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El toro de oro

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The source of one of my favorite smells: orange blossoms

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My Spanish niece, Esther, and her beautiful mama…

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My Spanish mom and sis…my two favorite ‘Maites’.

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Manolo, my favorite trouble-maker

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Bringing Briya (my company) to the streets of Sevilla (photo by the extremely talented Alvaro Rodriguez Galan

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Sneak Preview: Salsa, Heartbreak, and Redemption (or something like that)

Thought I would give a taste of why I have disappeared for a spell. I have no idea where or if this will be published, but I thought I could try to spread a lil’ hope for those of you in the thick of ‘rebounding’ from a heartbreak in the absence of a rebound, at least in the traditional sense….

“Burdened no more is soul for whom life flows through dance like breath.”
― Shah Asad Rizvi

He grabbed my hand and slid his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. Our lips were close enough to kiss. My eyes lingered on them as they made their way up to meet his gaze. He smiled playfully, “Relax. Try not to think, and just let yourself  feel. ”

The music started. A cacophony of horns and percussion thrust us into motion. I knew I was tensing up, and the only thing I could feel was my heart racing. He let go of my waist and slid his hands down the length of my back, letting them rest firmly on my hips. He paused for a second, teasing me like he always did before he sent me spinning. I threw my head back, laughing, as our playful improvisation began, our bodies syncing up perfectly. Without saying a word, he would tell me exactly what he wanted me to do, and I would gladly submit. He had me exactly where he wanted me. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than how I felt, completely immersed in the moment, and deliriously happy. Then the music stopped.

This is how I got over my first heartbreak. I started dancing.

My boyfriend had found someone else. I didn’t blame him. We were going on year four of what had become a vicious cycle of trying ‘just one more time’. I knew it needed to end, but I wasn’t ready to give up. He was, and he did.

So I did what I always do when my heart gets broken; I planned my escape. I sold everything that wouldn’t fit into my suitcase and bought a ticket to Spain. Just over a week before I was supposed to leave, my stepdad called. My mom had been in a car accident.

I didn’t go to Spain; I went to bury my mom instead.

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I finally stopped rambling when he walked over and motioned for my hand. I wiped it on my skirt, confessing,

I’m kind of nervous

He smiled. Really? I had no idea. 

I feigned annoyance, laughed and offered up my sweaty palm. He led me through some basic steps, which I fumbled through, stepping on his feet more than I care to admit. He finally stopped, stepping back and studying me for a minute.

Not bad, he said, acting surprised. Actually, that was pretty good. You clearly know how to dance; we just need to get your confidence back. But first, there is something more important we need to do.

He had my attention.

I think you’ve forgotten how to feel. And you can’ t dance if you can’t feel. So I am going to try something that I think might help.

He most definitely had my attention.

Close your eyes and don’t open them until I tell you.

I stood there, my heart racing, waiting to see what would happen next…..

 

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More to come….   ;o)

 

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Come check out my social enterprise, Briya, and help us empower women and children with education and economic advancement opportunities across the globe.

Briya produces fashionable bags and accessories that allow adventurous spirits and dedicated change-makers to travel in style while helping women and children to reach their full potential in underprivileged regions around the world.

www.briyabags.com

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