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  • Brendan McKay

Siestas - Alive and Well in Seville

I think it finally dawned on me when we went to visit our fourth shop of the afternoon - curtains drawn and doors still locked 30 minutes after the small, handwritten sign advertised that the proprietor fully expected to be back by 5 p.m. "They take this siesta thing pretty seriously" I grumbled to myself, trying to quell the rising emotions of frustration, mild annoyance and betrayal that you aren't open when you clearly said you would be. As the adage goes, a cold blooded American can expect three things in life - death, taxes and for the cafe down the street to promptly open whenever advertised so one can get their oat-milk-latte-quickly-thank-you-very-much.

Midday silence

It took some time to comprehend this amorphous period of the afternoon that exists in parts of Spain, where the only expectation of repeatable, scheduled consistency should be that things just slow down. Yes, some restaurants may still be open for a late lunch, and a random tourist attended here or there, but by and large, particularly in the alleys on the outskirts of Seville, there is a deafening quiet that overtakes the streets. With the 95 degree midday heat radiating down on us, it suddenly made a little more sense why los sevillanos take a break and enjoy an extended meal and relaxation wherever they call or find home that afternoon.


And while it took some getting used to, by the end of our four days in Seville I was at peace with it. I expected it. The amped up, max-out-your-vacation Americano in me actually started to enjoy it. This odd concept of a malleable period of the day that forces you to detach from work and life and all of their associated stresses - there is quite literally no other option when everyone is in the same boat. Go home and enjoy a meal that might take an hour, or maybe two hours if you're in the mood. Take a quick nap. Catch up with friends and forget the email piling up in your inbox. Don't worry and be happy.

Home for the afternoon

A few souls braving the afternoon sun atop Las Setas in downtown Seville

It's been almost two months since we were in Seville, and the trip is a distant enough memory at this point that any semblance of that afternoon siesta break that I tried to bring home has long been forgotten. Lunch again consists of hurried bites of sandwich in between email responses and furious texts ("I'll call you right back"). My heart rate isn't necessarily elevated, but I'm certainly not relaxed nor enjoying a natural break in the day. But glancing at these pictures is a nice mental transport back to those late summer afternoons in the deep alleyways of Seville, where regardless of where you physically are, your mental and emotional home is nothingness for a few hours each day. Dawn Ethos, in every sense of the word.

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