It’s 10:30 pm and I’m sitting on a windowsill along the main shopping street which is, while not deserted, certainly not busy. The sounds of people walking past clash and mingle with the sound of classical music. I look to my right and there stands an older man playing the violin. Surrounding him are 10 young hoodlums decked out in the latest goth and streetpunk fashion. Nothing out of the ordinary perhaps but their rapturous stares are practically drilling holes in the old man and his violin. Realizing his audience he picks up his pace a bit, turning slow melody to a sprightly dance step. Nothing out of the ordinary you might say, but tonight is a night out of the ordinary. It’s a night of something – heightened emotion or awareness. Awareness of the people who pass by the old woman without noticing her. Her hand outstretched not to beg for money, but rather to show a newspaper. Why? What does it say? What is she begging them to notice? “Denuncia al trato de disciminacion al immigrante negro” reads the frontpage headline. She is obviously a homeless Spanish woman of 50 or 60 years, so why? Why this article? What meaning does it have for her? I continue on. “The story has been written,” says a woman passing by. Why? What story is she referring to? The homeless man who waits outside the Horno, once again I see him, but now he hunches outside the bank counting his loose change. Cheerful girls in red matching shirts skip the chain rope not 5 meters from him. Benevolent smiling parents that don’t notice his suffering. Tourists taking pictures of naked angels in Plaza Nueva. I look again and he is gone. Where? He sneaked past the bank’s doors to enter his cardboard box house. Time to move on. Old spanish couples chat idly on wooden benches. A young man types industriously on his laptop before the grand sevillano building. The bell of la Giralda rings calling me on. The moon is one-quarter shadowed. The sound of jazz draws me past the huddled tourists examining their maps to a store closing for the night. Young spanish men singing flamenco pass me on the street. I come to a crossroads. Where do I turn? The well-known path or something more adventurous? I have a path in mind, but the moon is not yet half-shadowed. An Irish pub to my left is full of people, sounds, caos y ruido. I glance up; I look around me. A giant crane hangs over my left side while the ancient cathedral looms to my right. A man hangs up the telephone at the phone booth – slowly and sadly – a pensive look on his face. Why? A man stands beside a red car, face impassive. Why? He is joined by a young pale-haired woman who greets him with a kiss. Who is she? The moon is nearly at half shadow. I must continue on. The smell of horse nearly overpowering as I walk past the cathedral. A pretty young woman standing and posing on the fountain for her young beau to photograph. A trio of young spanish men whistling as they pass by. The man from before at the telephone booth walks past. His gait painful and awkward. His face sad and sorrowful. A large group of forty older men and women walk past, speaking…Italian? Who are they? Where have they come from? But the tower rings again – I must hurry on! Old couples, young ones, sharing the same courtyard – sitting idly, sharing stories. Riotous laughter ringing out behind me as I continue on. A pretty young woman sits outside a closed store window front, smiling at nothing. What does she see? Darkened streets, swiftly walking people, women dressed for going out stumble on the cobblestoned streets with their high stiletto heels. But all too soon I have returned to brightly lit streets and gaily dressed people. Rollerbladers stumble on dirt paths as young boys argue the direction of the discoteca Catedral. A man asks me the direction of his hotel as the buses leave Puerta de Jerez for the final time this night. The moon is half-shadowed. I walk past the mini-botellones y 4X4s spotting the park as a lone man smokes a cigarette on a secluded bench. A young girl sits astride her pimped out moto bedecked with Playboy bunnies and words she probably doesn’t understand. Men work diligently throughout the night on the road construction as once again the spanish drivers utilize their carhorns in insistent disharmony, breaking the spell of the starlit night. A young couple cuddle on a bench as an older pair look out across the river. Two older tourists trudge on, suitcases attached. The man in front stares back at his wife as if to blame her for their slow pace, but her icy glare could pierce solid steel. A man jogs past ignoring both them and their domestic squabble. The moon is three-quarters in shadow and I move on. Two men are covered in shadow so that I nearly overlook them. One lies on the far side of a bench covered by a blanket; the other sits on the near side sharing some urgent news. My attention taken by the river I nearly overlooked these people. His urgent news conveyed he shares the contents of his styrofoam cup. I dare not stay longer and risk offending them. Four young American boys stumble past – drunk, and nearly run into the traffic of the main street. Voices draw me to the edge of the river path, but they are just echoes from across the river, resounding in my ears as though the speakers stood next to me. My shivering body urges me to press on. My feelings overflow and I dance before the river, the shadowed moon hanging overhead, spaniards witnesses to my frenzied movements – but their loud voices break the spell. A man walks past holding what at first glance appears a knife, but proves some other instrument. I continue on my journey only to look back and the see the man with the “knife” following me. I can only assume it’s happenstance and continue on despite voices raised in protest behind me. And now I’ve reached my destination – a quiet spot along the river to vie the lunar eclipse in totality. Someone sets off fireworks on the other side of the river to herald the eclipse. The moon’s edge glows like a fire slowly growing from cinders.
Culture Shock Blog
(c) Silvine Photography
Many of my photographs are taken during my travels through Europe, Asia and Africa. I'm continually seeking inspiration in the architecture I see, the local customs I engage in and the vibrant lifestyles of the people I meet. I see each photograph as a candid shot of someone's life in another country. Through my photography I want to erase borders that may exist because of distance, language or misunderstanding.
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