I’m getting a huge kick out of seeing the place where my hero is from. I’ve been able to create him from film and people I’ve met, but being in his hometown when I’m partway through writing a critical point in his life is exhilarating.
I wandered through Seville yesterday enjoying the charming streets, the flamenco accessories in the shop windows and getting a feel for the people and the place. I was nosy in the real estate windows and peered into people’s windows and courtyards. I’ve always imagined being someone from the places I’ve visited, but this is so much closer because Diego grew up here and his family lives nearby. I feel like it’s helping the pieces of him to fall into place and I’m seeing scenes on every street corner.
I’ve never been to the south of Spain and I should be ticking off tourist sites, but I was so excited to take a suburban bus heading out to where his family lives. Diego’s hometown wouldn’t be on anyone’s tourist trail, but it’s perfect for the story. The people are upper-middle class and it even fits with his British education because there is a British school on the outskirts. But the town is still pretty gritty. There are unfinished construction sites and a really cool abandoned road. There’s also a bullring, which, bizarrely, is less than fifteen years old. I’m not going to feature bullfighting for obvious reasons, but it adds some atmosphere to the place. The houses stop abruptly and the olive groves start.
I also went out to the end of the bus route because it was mentioned in my guide book and it was a strange little town. It was established by the Moors and there is a ruined Moorish fortress there, but it’s fenced off and you can only catch glimpses of it from a random car park with rubbish strewn around. It’s not exactly the romantic Seville I discovered yesterday, but it sparks the imagination.
I didn’t realise I’ve always been this sort of tourist. I used to think I was just poor (I’ve never really enjoyed normal work for money) and I didn’t want to pay entry into every tourist site. But now I realise I always just want to watch people and imagine their lives. I want to be nosy and write their stories in my head (or my computer).
But I am also too awkward a tourist to do that without terror. I now speak about six words of Spanish. It’s not nearly enough. The word aqui (here) has helped a lot. I wandered around these random suburban towns taking photos, terrified someone would ask me what I’m doing. But luckily they didn’t. Saturday morning in a quiet suburban town – I didn’t even see many people except runners and dog walkers.