Christmas Down South

by Mikel Quintana


Throughout my year so far I have continuously heard my host family talk about Sevilla, about their family, about their home, and about their beautiful city. Luckily during these holidays I was able to go with them to Sevilla and spend Christmas and New Years with them and their extended families’.

As we arrived in Sevilla at 2:30 AM and unpacked the car to temporarily move in with la Abuela I was surprised and amazed to see the whole street was lined with orange trees. The next morning I promptly asked if they were edible and was disappointed to hear they were not even good for juicing. That first day we met up with my host dad’s sister (my host aunt), her husband, toddler and 2 month old baby, and went to explore the historical center of Sevilla. I was taken aback and awed as we winded through small alleyways lined with hanging vines and plants from the apartment balconies. These alleyways opened into small plazas with statues, and their corresponding tales and legends from divine miracles to hanging heads and betrayal. As we navigated through the cobble stoned streets and alleyways lined with orange trees, beautiful tile work, and  overhanging greenery I felt a well of emotion of love, awe, and joy well up in me. We then entered a main street of the city center revealing the famous Giralda or bell tower of the Cathedral. The Cathedral, a beautiful and impressive architectural masterpiece, is not only the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world but is also home to an unbelievable amount of history from the Arab Mosque that once stood there to the resting place of Christopher Columbus’ remains. The beauty, magnitude, and history of what I was witnessing added to the well of emotion I had previously felt, almost bringing me to tears and definitively founding my love for this city.  In the future I would definitely want to live in Sevilla, preferably during the winters when its balmy 60 degree weather and sunshine is greatly accepted unlike its scorching summer heat.

Over the holidays there were also many family meals and opportunities for me to meet my host family’s extended family and take a break from sightseeing. At first I was slightly disappointed to see that they were no cousins of my age, most of them being much younger. As time passed however, I became to appreciate this. In my family I am pretty much in the middle of my cousins and the youngest cousin of my family is my brother who is already 12. As I only vaguely remember my little brother as a baby and toddler, the opportunity for me to hold babies, push strollers through Sevilla, and lift younger children up onto my shoulders and yell ‘saco de patatas’ (sack of potatoes) was new and very fun. I was able to see my host sister play with her cousins and take command of even younger cousins and my host brother seclude himself with his other cousins of his pre-adolescent age as they played new video games they had gotten for Christmas. It was unfortunate that I didn’t find anyone to go out with in Sevilla’s vibrant nightlife but it was a new experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to when I go back for Semana Santa and Feria de Abril.

My time in Sevilla was special for many reasons but the combination of sightseeing a beautiful and historical city while on a relaxing family vacation made my time in Sevilla memorable to say the least, and left me counting down the days until I get to go back.

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