In a moment of national crisis, sometimes I do wonder why I live in Seville. As a TEFL teacher with a golden ticket to teach and travel the world, I decided to stop here, but why? You’ve already seen the reasons why I hate living in Spain, but there are reasons why I love teaching in Seville.
I love the Spanish lifestyle. I’m lucky enough to work for an academy where I have a three day weekend (sometimes two and a half because of useful training sessions on Friday mornings). Working until 10 pm can be a pain sometimes (I hate missing mid-week Premiership and Champions League football), but at least I get the mornings off to write or go to the gym.
The general way of life is more relaxed than back home. I’m not in the position to buy a house, but there isn’t that pressure to get pinned down with a mortgage (not that I’d be able to get one on my wages anyway). It has taken me a while to get used to the three-hour family lunches, having breakfast in noisy cafes with my puffy morning eyes, and leaving to go out at 10 pm, but I’m part Spanish now. I’ll never get used to the siestas though; I hate waking up twice in the same day.
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
The first time I witnessed Seville’s week-long religious festival I freaked out: hundreds of men (and more recently women) dressed up in long cloaks and tall pointy hats like KKK members following huge statues of Christ around a chaotic city, wasn’t my idea of fun on my Easter break. Admittedly, if my wife and her family weren’t big fans of the festival then I would have probably taken off to the beach or gone travelling like most other TEFL teachers.
I get into the festival now though. I love the smell of Azar – orange blossom – that mixes with the incense and enjoy the buzz of waiting in the crowded backstreets to listen to the brass bands accompany the Christ and Virgin on their penitence around the city. I appreciate the effort and patience that goes into carrying the heavy religious symbols. The guys underneath each carry an equivalent of about 40kgs, most end up with a huge lump on the back of their neck.
For me it’s the best time of year in Seville. Nothing that interesting happens here normally so seeing the city come to life is exciting. My favourite part is the Madrugada. The all-night event to celebrate the official time that Jesus died on the cross is mysterious and spooky. The city gets packed with Sevillanos who stay up all night to watch some of the best processions.
It’s not for everyone; a lot of Sevillanos can’t stand the crowds and the way the whole city suddenly becomes extra-religious for a week. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving going on and many people are disrespectful to the nazarenos as they walk past. If you are thinking about visiting during Semana Santa then book early because the hotels get full quickly.
You can’t beat a live flamenco show to feel the real passion of Seville and Andalucía. Flamenco is a product of generations of music tastes from Andalucíans, gypsies, Arabs, and Muslims. Watching passionate flamenco dancers stomp about the wooden stage while accompanied by gifted guitarists and powerful singers is a great aspect of living in Seville.
Each show is unique as the artists tend to create spontaneous performances so every time you go you notice something different. The real art of flamenco is feeling duende, a mysterious feeling of unity within the soul. Duende is not easy to describe or feel but it’s basically a physical or emotional response to music. It’s deeper than just feeling goosebumps on your neck and is something I am still trying to appreciate.
One of my biggest regrets of travelling the world is that I didn’t try enough different foods. I used to prefer spending my money on a beer-fuelled night than splash out on a decent meal (apart from in Asia where it was dirty cheap). One thing I love about Seville is the tapas. It’s a great way to spend an evening, sampling a few different dishes while you knock back a beer or a glass of wine or two.
Some expats don’t get on with the Spanish cuisine, a lot of it is fried and you rarely get vegetables with your meal, but having tapas once or twice a week is a great treat. My favourite dishes are paella, Jamon – cured ham, patatas bravas – boiled potatoes in a spicy sauce, and solomillo al whisky – pork in a whisky and garlic sauce.
I’m an old romantic at heart, and so the main part I love about Seville is my wife. Yeah it might sound cheesy, but I don’t care; it’s true. If I hadn’t met her I’d probably be in South Korea scoffing banchan, or in Dubai earning a fortune, but I’m not, I’m here, in Seville because I fell in love with a Spanish lady. Seville is not an easy place to live if you’re not in a couple. Many TEFL teachers passing through don’t survive the cliquey mentality and way of life. I’ve seen loads of teachers only survive a year or two.
So those are the reasons I love living in Seville. There are probably more exciting and adventurous places to live, but that’s where I am, for now. I’d be interested to know what you love about living in other parts of Spain, just drop a comment below.
Baz is currently TEFLing out in sunny Seville in Spain, the lucky dude, but has previously taught English in Ecuador, Brazil, Australia and Thailand, so is definitely a TEFL expert!