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Nochebuena 2000


I flew into Seville on Christmas Eve 2000. There, I asked around and found that the bus to Santa Justa train station was the best way to get downtown. (The lady said the bus doesn't go downtown; but Santa Justa is no more than a half-mile from el centro, the ancient central city.)

It was mid-evening. The train station was all but deserted. I sat down on a bench and thought about what I was going to do. Wouldn't it be nice to have a glass of beer, to sit in a bar, think, and maybe write? I brought out my notebook and pen, there on the train-station bench, and worked a few things through in my head. I had my doubts about a bar on Christmas Eve in Catholic Spain. For that matter too I had doubts about finding accommodation. Warm and dry out, I decided not to worry about that one too much.

After some writing and maybe a cigarette, I went to the information desk. I'd had 3 hours per week of Spanish for one year, 16 years prior. I knew some words. What I wanted was to find a bar that was open. Why this was my first priority, I don't know. I just wanted to be out, to sit, to think for a while. To have a beer.

No, the man said. There are no bars open tonight. Es una mala noche. [Which was funny because in Spanish, Christmas Eve is "Nochebuena;" the Good Night.]

So anyway, I checked my pack into the storage facility in the basement, locked up in tight security (scanned by x-ray on the way in,) and set out walking. First I went to some large, rich hotels near the station; I asked them for directions to a less-expensive operation. I found one, easily enough. Though it was not as inexpensive as I'd have liked, it was better than sleeping outside. Not as good as a glass of beer before retiring, but that wasn't to be.

I had to walk back to the station to get my passport in order to check in. Checked in, I watched a bit of TV; an over-the-top song-and-dance show where a 60-something gentleman was obviously lip-synching to a sound track while young women cavorted around him.

Like I said, it was better than sleeping outside.

__   ___   __

  • The next day I found a hostal down some narrow alleyway, and soon my favorite café — where I discovered a place to live. I was in Seville until the middle of June 2001.


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