I went to Seville, Spain for an industrial trade conference on diesel generators I sold and serviced. The factory sponsored the event, paying for all expenses except travel to the venue.  At conclusion of the conference, I detoured to Brest France, to their corporate headquarters, for a factory tour.
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6, April
Sevilla, Spain

Whoa...what a day!

Let me start with some unmentioned history. The first day here some one was complaining about eating bad airplane food, and was suffering from food poisoning symptoms. Yesterday, two other people complained of similar symptoms but blamed it on the food here.

Now today, at least six people are complaining about digestive problems. Yep...I got it too. It started for me at about 10:00am during the morning workshops. I felt some light cramping and gentile nausea (hell it's probably just the wine last night). At the coffee break I went to the bathroom and promptly knelt before the porcelain god and gave offerings.

I don't think it was the wine, and I don't think it was food illness, I think I want to go find Mr, Colorado and thank him for the nice present he brought for us all to share.

By the end of the morning workshops, I was feeling worse and had a light fever. I went up to my room and took a cold bath and a short nap.

Well, I decided I couldn't just stay in my room and feel miserable, so I joined the other miserables on a bus out of the city to an equestrian ranch. Good choice.

We drove about 20 KM west of Sevilla through several small farm villages. Now this doesn't sound like much until you consider we were riding in six, forty-eight passenger, tour buss and the streets of these villages narrowed in many places to less than eight feet wide. The driver had to stop frequently to fold back the rear view mirrors! At one point we came head to head with a tractor towing two trailers in tandem. We had to stop and wait for him to un-hitch each trailer and turn them around by hand before tuning his tractor around and heading back to the square.

Riding in a cramped bus with forty seven other people, and feeling nauseated, on a hot and muggy day was almost too much. But it was worth it.

Today I was finally grouped in with the North American tract, and out from the group of UK people. Now instead of London and Dublin as partners, I was in with Virginia, and Louisiana. Next to us were Georgia, Kansas, and Vermont. Behind us were Indiana, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Oh great, I went from thick English and Scottish accents to southern drawl. I was stuck in the middle of the second rising of Dixie!

This was also a social event and spouses were allowed to attend. Most of the ride was spend listening to an argument between the two wives of Kentucky and North Carolina over whether an olive is a fruit or a vegetable.

When Mrs. Georgia found out we were going to a Bullfighting ranch, she flamed up in protest screaming about animal cruelty, and stated that she wouldn't get off the bus. We respected her wish. I think this was the first time I saw her husband smile.

The ranch was called Hacienda San Felipe. It is located on a 430 hectare piece of land that co-worked olives and the Andalusian purebred horses. The ranch house was built to house the king of Spain during the 1929 world fair. The Hacienda building was actually the old olive press building, now converted to host equestrian spectacles. The ranch holds thirty thousand olive trees, many of which have root stock over a hundred years old. The horses cohabitate among the many linear orchard rows.

We were treated to a showing of the many horses, riding demonstrations, and a simplified 'breaking' of a horse. I do not know if it was the flu, the sherry or the whole surrealism of this trip, but found myself becoming quite emotional watching the majestic beauty of these animals and the grace and talent of their riders. They served cocktails in the stable quad, with tapas and sampling of the olive oil. They were selling 50mil bottles for EU 10, but I didn't want to have to carry it around all day.

We moved inside to the base of the old press tower were we were served gazpacho and paella. With my stomach still doing somersaults, I only tasted of the soup and had to go out for some air. I wandered down to the caves where the oil was stored and found some hay bales that looked out over the Andalusian countryside and took a nap.

I woke to the sound of the busses starting up and hurried back up to the Hacienda. We boarded the busses and headed about two KM away to the bull ranch, Rancho Albasserada, where they have a bullfighter's museum, a training arena for young matadors, and extensive acreage with over a thousand head. 

 We were given a capea show, a demonstration of cape techniques by a young man with a cow, and taken out on a hay ride to inspect the heard. You have to try and visualize the rolling terrain, green and lush from the spring rains, and all of the fields alive with lavender and wild mustard buds, and the 1200 kilo plus bulls looking so docile under the shade of the olive trees. 

 The rancho is most noted for one of its bulls, Laborioso (1962-1976)who fought in Sevilla at the age of four, with enough bravery and nobility that his life was spared by the ‘Presidente' and went on to sire over 450 more bulls, and some cows too (what a way to retire!). We left the rancho and headed back to the hotel for a siesta.

At 8:30pm we corralled in front of the hotel to once again be herded into the busses and taken off to dinner. We went down again to the west bank of El Rio Grande, and entered a private palace of marble and olive wood. We were hosted cocktails and tapas in a tent covered patio, then lead into the dining room. 

 The many tables were set for parties of eight, complete with formal silver and china, and crystal goblets. The center of the room was cleared for the Flamenco dancing. Dinner started with a trout relish salad. When (not able to eat trout) I kindly refused the server, he returned in minutes with a specially prepared salad of tangy chicory and baby spinach, with a pistachio dressing. I was floored by the special service. The main course was a chicken marinated in a thick gravy with baby brown potatoes, each individually carved into the shape of mushroom, complete with stems! As usual there were at least three glasses of wine in front of each of us, and you really never know just how much you drink because they were there to top off your glass after each sip. We sampled whites, reds, and sherries. And I have yet to find one of the reds I don’t like. They manage to find the perfect wines each time to complement the particular cuisine of the evening. The whites are a little too sweet for me though.

By the time the flamenco (Sevillana) show started, I had forgotten about my earlier illness and was toe tapping and hand clapping in perfect tempo to the fast rhythms being played. The dancers were young students of a local dance school who performed flawlessly and with outstanding enthusiasm. It was impossible not to end up on your feet, and before long we had all three hundred of us roaring!

We ended up back at the hotel at midnight, and many of the 'hosts' were off to another cantina crawl. I passed on the invitation and came up to the room to write this all down and finally get some sleep.

What can tomorrow hold, that could top today?!


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