Music to my Ears

I’d say that I’m a nomad. I’m a wanderer and a traveler – but not because I’m searching or running away. I love new, unexplored territory. I search for the stories. I run toward the unknown. I thrive off of the journey, the bus rides, the train stops, the long walks, and stranger talks.

This weekend, almost every student in my study abroad program traveled to Lagos, Portugal, for an all-inclusive beach trip. Although the weekender was tempting, I decided to stay in Sevilla; I figured I could use a couple hundred euros, a few less glasses of sangria, and some me time.

Instead of following a tour guide, I made my own plan – no plans. I packed my over-sized “Mary Poppins bag” with my camera and some snacks, and set off into the toasty afternoon sun. My camera played my favorite song as I wandered the narrow city streets. Click! Click! Click! Click-click! The rhythm of my rapid-fire was music to my ears.

I found myself in Triana, the neighborhood across the river. Sevillians know Triana for its rich culture, vibrant flamenco, and characteristic architecture. As I happily snapped pictures, the streets began to flood with students. School had just finished for the lunch hour and dozens of uniform-clad children ran through the streets. Their parents, dressed in beautiful European business-wear, held the munchkins’ hands as they giggled and dragged their wheeled backpacks across the cobble stones. I stood on the street corner watching the families, an outsider peering in to a world unknown.

View of river from Triana barrio.
View of river from Triana barrio.

Kids leaving school.

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The following day, I decided to embark on a similar journey. This time, I caught the metro and stopped at a new station. The streets bustled with people walking and gathering for a customary pre-dinner merienda. I wandered toward an old tobacco factory, drawn to the iron gates and crumbling stone walls. Once inside, I walked the long corridors, attempting to capture the antiquated beauty through my lens. In the distance, I could hear the faint sound of instruments. I followed the music around the corner of the dimly lit hallway. I emerged from the darkness into small, open plaza, softly lit by the golden setting sun.  A flamenco band occupied a make-shift stage, practicing and improvising traditional Spanish songs.

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The cantor closed his eyes, focusing on his words and strictly maintaining rhythm with the sharp clapping of his hands. His voice echoed through the passageways, strong yet smooth, forceful yet calming, resonant. Behind him, a drummer maintained the tempo with a steel drum. A violinist added a unique, yet equally captivating, harmony. The omnipresence of the passion behind the music sent chills down my spine.

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I found a dusty bench and absorbed the echoing sounds, the scene, the moment. A concert just for me – music to my ears. Exploring a city I love, one photo at a time? Music to my ears.

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