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Humor August 2017

Ernie's World

Spanish Jeopardy!

By Ernie Witham

"Women could not go out alone. Could not work. Could not shop by themselves. Or date. But the tobacco company hired young women to roll cigars." Probably smoked less than the men, I figured.

My wife and I watch “Jeopardy!” every night. Pat knows a lot of stuff and calmly gives correct answer after correct answer. I get so excited when there is finally a question in my realm, I shout out the answer. "What is beer? Alex!"

"Please stop jumping, you are rattling the dishes," Pat usually says.

So, when the guy with the purple umbrella said he had to determine what language we spoke, I knew that one and shouted out "What is English?"

"You're jumping again," said Pat.

We were in Seville, Spain, on a damp early morning, free walking tour – grouped up with a bunch of other shivering people following a woman at high speed as she navigated through narrow streets from hotel to hotel, collecting more and more tourists, leading us like the Pied Piper to a small plaza where she passed us off to the purple-umbrella people.

The head guy stood and said he needed to split us into language groups. English was the largest. So, he split the English group into three groups. He handed our group off to a short young woman named Rachel.

"Follow me to our first stop," she said, raising her umbrella so we could see her. We regrouped under a small tree and she told us about the various groups that had occupied Spain, and then asked some questions about Spanish history.

There was a woman in a leather jacket, who answered most of the questions. After a long five minutes, we moved on to the main plaza by the Royal Palace and the Cathedral Seville, the third largest cathedral in Spain. There were approximately ten thousand people, pigeons, horses, taxis and tour guides in the plaza.

"You need to establish your historic prowess for the sake of 'our team' and not let leather-jacket woman be the hero of the day," I told Pat. She nodded, did a couple of shoulder rolls, and cracked her knuckles.

"Who knows what the largest cathedral in the world is?'" Rachel asked.

"The Vatican," Pat said.

"Correct," said Rachel.

"Who knows the second?"

"St. Paul's," said Pat.

"Correct again.”

"That's my wife," I said. Some people seemed doubtful that could be true. Not the first time that's happened.

Then Rachel asked how long we thought it took to build the cathedral. There were a few guesses. I wondered if it was actually done yet, as one side was covered in scaffolding. "500 years?" guessed Pat.

"Correct," said Rachel.

"Are you actually one of the guides?" someone asked Pat. I smiled proudly.

We moved to another location. More questions. No one knew these. "Where's the lady with the red jacket?" someone asked. Everyone looked around. Pat had taken off her jacket. I pointed her out. "She's getting warmed up now."

We moved again, down by the river where we learned that the main port had moved from Seville to Cadiz, and did anyone know why?

"Cadiz had more beer?" I said. "Nope. It was because ships had gotten bigger and big ships couldn't get up the shallow river," Rachel told us. I think the judges on “Jeopardy!” might have given me credit for my answer.

The next spot was looking at a stone guard tower. "Why did they need a guard tower on a river?"

"Pirates," Pat said.

"Correct!" Our "team" was back.

We stopped for lunch, then went to the university that used to be a tobacco factory.

"Women could not go out alone. Could not work. Could not shop by themselves. Or date. But the tobacco company hired young women to roll cigars." Probably smoked less than the men, I figured.

"Women now had their own money. They could do their own shopping. Even move in with another factory worker woman. It was the beginning of women's lib."

"And the setting for the opera, Carmen," Pat said.


Our final stop was the enormous Plaza de Español, which had been used in a bunch of movies, including Star Wars. I thought my moment had finally come in that I have seen all the movies, but there were no questions. Instead, we all tipped our free guide 20 euros and headed on to our next Spanish adventure. I'm hoping they ask food and wine questions at the next spot.


For more adventures please check out Where Are Pat and Ernie Now?

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