If you are blessed enough to have friends with a pool in Seville, then you are blessed indeed.
You know you’re in Spain when lunch starts close to 4 pm and no one bats an eyelid. The barbecue has already been sizzling for a while when we arrive and after greeting the birthday girl, we head towards the group of towel-clad family members and friends clustered around the table at the far end of the patio.
I’m immediately handed a plate of picadillo and offered a drink. Here, have a chair. Make sure you’re in the shade. This is what I love about Spanish life, and Andalusia more specifically. You are always made to feel welcome, part of the family.
A couple of people are lounging in the water, beer in hand, keeping cool in the afternoon heat that must be around 36ºC today, a small respite to the high 40sºC we’ve been having. I contemplate joining them, but decide on food first, then swim.
We came straight from work, driving out to Gines from Seville. This small pueblo is not far from the city and easily accessible via the motorway. In the course of the afternoon I learn that it has a population of 13.000 and available real estate is unlikely to grow, since most of the unbuilt land around cannot be developed.
Many people have a continual work schedule during the summer months, ranging somewhere between 7 am and 3 pm, with lunch happening after that, so today’s gathering is in no way unusual. We’re invited to arrive any time and people trickle in and out all afternoon.
There’s a bit of an international atmosphere, our hosts hailing from both Spain and the U.S., they have a couple of friends visiting from L.A., we chat with a Chilean for a while and I’m always half foreign anyway, which all makes for an afternoon of interesting cross-cultural conversations, with a few good laughs thrown in.
Summer can be a bit of a limbo here, days merging into one another, so I welcome anything that mixes up the routine. Today we soak and chat in the pool until the skin on our toes wrinkles, jumping out only to apply more suncream or to grab another drink.
As the afternoon rolls on the sun moves around and the building gives us a little more shade. It’s the only indicator that time hasn’t come to a standstill in this small oasis. Nestled between the house undergoing construction work and the small studio leading to the street, this patio and the people in it have made me feel so at home I could stay forever.
Before I know it it’s 8:30 pm and more meat is loaded onto the hot coals to gently take on the smokey taste from the wooden pellets that are sold for just that purpose. I’m intrigued by the concept and surprised by the flavour, something to take note of for future events.
Time sprints ahead seemlessly. I haven’t thought once about going home which, introverted as I am, is highly unusual. It’s dark when I’m handed a slice of melon and we’re still all chatting away, mingling and moving from one group to another. The air is warm but much cooler than earlier and now feels like the perfect time to be outdoors.
Alas, it’s getting late and we have to be up bright and early for work in the morning. So after a day full of fun, of catching up with old friends and making new ones, it’s time to take the short drive back to Sevilla.
Happy birthday, friend! Here’s to many more joyful years to come!