Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Spain, Around-the-World Book Club, and Sorry no Pictures

Seville, Spain
Well, I am picking up where I left off in the middle of the last post, which means we are still in Spain! In Sevilla, we didn't have time to see much, but we visited the Cathedral of Seville. The Cathedral is still a functioning church, with mass and prayer several times each day. However, it was also an excellent place to get a sense of the history of Seville. It is now the largest gothic cathedral in the world. Orignially, the building was a mosque, one of the last constructed by the Moors occupying Seville from 1181-1198. When the Moors were ousted from power, the mosque was converted to a cathedral. The minaret was converted into a bell tower, and the entire mosque was completely remodeled into a grand cathedral. The cathedral was remodeled several times, so it has Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque features sort of pasted on top of a building that still has a few Moorish features peeking through. It is like a museum of Christian history, with many relics and items of historical importance held in chapels throughout the church. It is also a tomb for Christopher Columbus, among others.

Looking at Seville through a lense of Casablanca, I felt like the two were opposite in many ways. The sites of Seville now represent a Catholic presence, one has to look to see the mark left by the Moors. Life in Casablanca is dominated by Islam, with leftovers from French influence visible if you look closely. Both countries have been formerly occupied, like most of the countries we are visiting on this voyage.

The Around-the-World Book Club
The last time I traveled with Semester at Sea I was a student. I miss that aspect of the journey because when you arrive in a country with a sense of its history and political ideology, you look with more critical eyes. When people say things, you can hear underneath their words if you know what some of the current events are. Alas, "Global Studies" is not at an ideal time for the fam, so I'm starting a book club. I'm the only member right now. The library on board has a great collection of books focused on the countries we are visiting (except Namibia - where are you books on Namibia?). On the sidebar, you will see a list of my bookclub books. I'll let you know how they turn out. So far, I am about halfway through a book called "Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail". It's an Oprah book, so definately an easy read. It follows the life of Malika Oufkir and her family, who were exiled after her father attempted to overthrow King Hassan II in Morocco. The book definately takes on a different texture after having visited some of the palaces she refers to in the book, and having sampled the culture she refers to fleetingly in her writing. Anyway, if you are a fan of international reads, this might provide you with a few to add to the list.

Where are the pictures?
No, our camera hasn't been stolen. Yes, Luke, per usual, has been serving as the amazing photo-documentarian for the journey. I blame slow internet. Luke added a lot of photos to facebook - friend him if you want to see some great pictures right away. Otherwise, I hope to go retroactively through the blog and add pictures today...maybe...depending on naptimes.

1 comment:

Jpsaspsu said...

hi. I hope you enjoyed morocco! My wife and I sailed in spring 07 after sailing as students in F98 (one of the last to visit Morocco). I'm intently following your blog because we hope to go again with children (my wife is pregnant). Let us know how the family travels! Enjoy the trip- as you know- it's a unique experience!