But this post is not about breakfast. Instead, it is about a certain wonderful roommate and my tendency to procrastinate. Twenty-one years ago today, Ms. Kate Gilliam was born! And, when this realization that this important birthday came to me two weeks ago, I began to brainstorm what wonderful Spanish gift I could get in the mail in time. So far, I haven't found anything that would be perfect/of a reasonable size to ship. So, once I accepted defeat and decided a tangible gift may have to wait until I return to the US laden with gifts like a summer Santa, I began to think of something else that would show her I'm thinking about her on her birthday. As she has kindly told me that she has my blog first on her bookmark bar (an honor!), I thought a new blog post would be a small token for the time being.
This blog post will include a few things that have reminded me of Kate while I have been here, some of my favorite things about Kate, and some of the things that I think Kate will enjoy. So happy birthday Kate! Enjoy your birthday post... and I promise a real present is coming later! :)
Before continuing, you must click the link and have the flamenco guitarist playing in the background while you read
Last night, the program went to the Casa de la Memoria, a small house that puts on flamenco shows every night. The show took place in an Arabic courtyard lit by lanterns and floating candles. While the show included both dancing and solo flamenco guitarists, I had to smile to think that between our many candles and our visiting guitarist Marc, Dean A rivaled La Casa de la Memoria. I was hoping that they would perform a flamenco version of "99 Red Balloons" or "If I Had a Boat," but had to settle for what was provided. The dancers, or bailaors, were stunning. When the bailaor stepped out in his bright red shirt and corresponding red boots, intense eyes, and dark ponytail, I think every woman in the room swooned. Similarly, every woman in the audience swooned again (this time with envy!) when they saw the bailaora's beautiful dress and the way she was able to dance, snap, clap, twirl, and tap her foot to the beat of the guitars seemingly all at once.
Then today was spent in Cadiz- the city surrounded by the sea. As our guide led us through the city, she boasted that it was the most ancient city in all of Spain, settled by the Phoenicians, and later conquered by Carthage, the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moor, the English and the Irish all since 1104 BC. There are Roman theaters, giant white cathedrals on the edge of the ocean, and winding, narrow streets of white houses to keep cool in the hot summers. If I were to be an engineer or architect, and put in charge of building a cathedral, the story would probably be similar to the story of how the new Cadiz cathedral was built: The new cathedral was built over a span of 116 years and because it took so long, it ended up being partially baroque and partially rococo and partially neoclassical They also began building in a time of great prosperity and imported the best Italian pink marble to build with. Unfortunately, the good times did not last and they began to look for cheaper materials and used a form of sea rock with high levels of salt. While this was cheap and easily accessible, it also expanded greatly in the summer months and there are now nets on the cathedral ceilings to keep the chunks of falling ceiling from hitting those below. As you can probably see, there are a few similarities to my essay-writing process and the Cadiz church-building process.
For lunch we sat around and had tapas and fresh apple and orange flavored sangria for over two hours, with each person discussing their traumatizing first kiss experiences. After we had been sitting there enjoying ourselves, we decided it was time for coffee and postres (dessert!) but that we needed to explore a new plaza. On the way, I stumbled across the cutest dress and was unable to leave it behind (you'll love it... it's very hippie meets Europe) So after finding a coffee shop, a bakery, AND an ice cream shop, everyone was happy and we continued our relaxed day in the oldest city in Spain.
All in all, days like these are meant to be shared with friends, and I am so thankful that I have friends like Kate who can make a Saturday night of deciding it is too cold to go outside as fun as a night of flamenco dance and who can understand and encourage me when I'm making a cathedral out of the molehills in my life. I sincerely hope that your birthday is special and wonderful and that you know without a doubt that you're loved, appreciated, and dearly missed for the wise, compassionate and extraordinary woman that you are!