September 16-18, 2016 | As we strode through the narrow, branching streets of Sevilla, we time-travelled back to Tim’s semester of study abroad.
“Hey, I know that guy!” Tim said suddenly.
We had arrived in Sevilla by train in the early afternoon, and after doing a brief loop around one area of the historic center, we found ourselves walking down a random sidewalk near Las Setas, a waffle-fry-like structure.
Tim had done a quick double-take after noticing a young man who looked eerily identical to his Spanish friend, Fran. As soon as we returned to Tim’s host brother’s apartment (our lodging for the weekend), Tim sent a quick message to Fran on the off chance that it truly had been him. Only a few minutes later, Tim received a reply that confirmed his suspicion. Fran had seen Tim, too, but didn’t think it was possible that Tim was back in Spain.
In classic Spanish fashion, Fran immediately suggested that we meet up for tapas and drinks that night. Spaniards commonly say, “El mundo es un pañuelo,” literally meaning, “The world is a handkerchief.” The subtext is that the far corners of the handkerchief come together frequently, bringing people together over time and space. In other words, it’s a small world!
Apart from hanging with Tim’s friends from 2011, we also had time for a laid-back lunch with his host mother, Lola. We enjoyed several raciones (shared portions) of Spanish eats, including bread, garlic green beans, potatoes, and rabo de toro (bull tail). It was such a treat to meet Lola and chat in Spanish for a few hours about topics ranging from politics to education to travel.
In terms of more touristy activities, we ended up walking over 20 miles through the streets of the city to see amazing sights such as Plaza de España, Las Setas, Avenida de la Constitución, La Alameda and Río Guadalquivir.
Many of the sights were just as Tim had remembered them, and I was struck by the warm feeling that comes with exploring someone else’s “place.” Tim spent an entire semester in this city, and accompanying him to his old stomping grounds was pretty magical.