Yesterday, July 20th, My co-worker Dan and I organized an excursion for our youth group here in the Aljarafe Sur de Sevilla. We took the teens from a very hot town in Greater Sevilla, to the beach. One teen said he hadn’t been to the beach in over a year, which is scandalous to me, unthinkable, thinking how hot it is here to not be able to go to the beach. My co-worker Dan drove his car and I took mine. I got to lead the way, since it was my idea to take them to a beach where we could bodyboard. The waves were consistant enough near Rota, Andalucia, where we were all day. I was very amused at taking them into a new neighborhood development that none had even been to before, since I was the foreigner and the person who had lived in Andalucia the least time. Where I took us at Playa Ballena, there easy beach-front parking, showers, a cafe with a bathroom, and it was cleaner and not as crowded as the beaches around Punto Umbria, where most people from Sevilla go to. I was amused that our drive didn’t take that much longer than it takes to get to Punto Umbria, driving south towards Cadiz, instead of west towards Huelva. The only complaint was that there was a traffic accident that had the whole 30-Beltway stopped over the industrial port of Sevilla right at the begining of the Centennial Bridge or “Paquito” as it is known by locals (Little San Francisco Bridge- meaning the Golden Gate Bridge). That was the only traffic on the way down, and I even past the temptation to take the toll-road, and just took the national Highway 4 down, since I didn’t want to force Dan in his minivan behind me, to have to pay the toll, especially if he wasn’t expecting to pay. So since I took the brand-new freeway all the way up to Costa Ballena, it dumped me out about half a mile from where it used to, so I wasn’t sure to go left or right. I made a left, following the Costa ballena sign, then immediately turned into the Urbanization of new condos at Costa ballena. One of my passengers was telling me to turn around, that the beach was further down the road, but I knew, from being there a couple times, that the best parking was right in the middle of the big developments of condos. Sure enough, I went down just one of the roads that looked like it went all the way to the cliffs, that looked like the one I took last time (but wasn’t) but it did lead to a good parking lot right by the water, as does the road that i was really looking for! That was good enough, I didn’t want to turn around and look for the other place to park as one person thought we should do, to find free parking, because I remember being a teenager and being so close to the beach and not getting out of the car- it’s torture! So i just parked immediately, and sure enough some scurried off to the bathroom on arrival. I did after we had set up “camp” with our umbrella, tables, and chairs; and after I had to walk around looking for change when the machine would take bills, then I went back to the machine to find it wasn’t taking Anything, so I had to go to another PayMachine and get my receipt to put on the dashboard. By that point I rushed to the cafe and bought some chips when I saw the bathroom was occupied, so that I wouldn’t annoy the people working there, the man who gave me change switched from Spanish to English on me and guessed that I was American. Was it the Hawaiian shirt? maybe.
I love my Hawaiian shirt collection. It’s been growing on it’s own, I got 2 for my birthday and one for Christmas, and this, 12 or 13 years after I really was first wearing them as a fashion statement for my beach-themed ska-band, The MentoneTones. Here in Puebla del Rio, where I live 17 km from Sevilla, it is blistering hot these days, yet some acquaintances ask me: “Why do you dress like you’re in Hawaii all the time?” I tell them, that’s normal in Southern California’s beach culture, especially in 105 degree weather. You are crazy wearing jeans and shoes and socks in this weather. yet some old Spanish men here, wear a white dress shirt and slacks and shoes in the this weather! I can see the sweat all under their armpits, through their dress shirt? That IS tradition. To these Spanish retirees, it’s very normal, like their grandfathers, to wear dress shoes and collored shirts every day of the year. And middle aged men wearing jeans and sneakers in this heat, I don’t get it? But then again I’m from Southern California, where one of my best friends wears his shorts and flip-flops to the snow at Christmas time (huh, Chad, Isn’t that right?)
Anyways, Back to Costa Ballena. There are condos for rent for 500 Euros a month, which is unbelievable to me, it’s better than Newport Beach in Orange County, yet about 1/5 the price for rent, and much less traffic! It was fantastic when I compare it to prices and traffic back in Orange & San Diego Counties in California.
Everyone had a great time in the water, that was great! It was really a perfect day at the beach. The waves were good enough for whoever was using the boogie-boards to catch waves, and breaking gently enough for the girls to have fun in the water. I got to go over the fundamentals of catching waves with each teen as they had a turn on the boogie-boards. I laughed hysterically when one gypsy boy kept falling on his face trying to walk in the water wearing my flinns! It was too funny that he would fall down and then try to walk again. I had to teach him the finn-wearing moonwalk, where you walk backwards wearing finns. I thank God for the awesome waves that I caught and that all the teens had such a good time in the water. I’m also gald that we we didn’t have any bad sports with us, everyone was willing to give it a try and participate in our beach games. The teens played Bachi-ball and kickball and it was lots of fun for them. I could tell by their expressions that the teens were taking the games very seriously since not all of them knew eachother. One girl was just invited by the pastor’s daughter, and 2 teens came from the church in the town over, the church that was started by Dan and Joan. So since not all the teens knew eachother, they were all playing nice to leave a good impression on the other teens. Watching them took me back to my own youth group trips to Catalina Island in the 1990’s. I had wild adventures there with my youth pastor’s, Rick and Susie Saunders, and other leaders like Robin Biggs and Brandon Stowers, and the guitar player from Switchfoot, Andrew Shirley. For me, it meant everything as a 15 year old to get to hang out with the cool older counselors like Andrew and Brandon and to get to get to be in a tropical paradise with so many great friends like Jim, Guin, Mara, Jeremy and Neal.
I thank God for those summer days we all relished on Catalina Island, and I hope I am giving the same opportunity to these youth in Sevilla, as I take them to learn boogie-boarding and kickball, at the Costa del Sol.