El Tiempo Entre Costuras – Part I

“Me llamo Sira Quiroga, y soy costurera. Nunca imaginé que me destino sería jugarme la vida cruzando la ciudad de un país extranjero con un traje de pistolas sobre mi piel. Pero ahora sé que el destino es la suma de todas las decisiones que tomamos en nuestra vida, incluso las que en su momento parecen insignificantes. En mi caso, me parezca ahora todo comenzó por algo tan pequeño como aprender a enhebrar una aguja…” (My name is Sira Quiroga, and I am a seamstress. I never imagined that destiny would lead me to risk my life crossing a city in a foreign country with an arsenal of pistols strapped to my skin. But now I know that destiny is the sum of all the decisions we make in our lives, including those that at that moment seemed insignificant. For me, it seemed that it began with something as simple as learning to thread a needle…). The woman named Sira Quiroga stands in the middle of a bedroom, with only a flimsy nightgown between her body and two dozens of guns tied to her arms, hips, waist, and thighs by ripped white cloth.

This is the intriguing opening scene of Spanish spy drama series El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time Between Seams). One might wonder why a seamstress has a collection of guns. Well, they say that pen is mightier than sword, but in world of El Tiempo Entre Costuras needle proves to be the mightiest of the three.

Adriana Ugarte as Sira Quiroga in El Tiempo Entre Costuras. Photo from atresmediapublicidad.com

Adriana Ugarte as Sira Quiroga in El Tiempo Entre Costuras. Photo from atresmediapublicidad.com

El Tiempo Entre Costuras revolves around Sira Quiroga (Adriana Ugarte), a Madrid seamstress who trained under the watchful eyes of her mother, Dolores (Elvira Mínguez). Sira leads a fairly predictable life, working in the haute couture shop of Doña Manuela (Elena Irureta), going out with girlfriends like Paquita (Pepa Rus), and spending time with boyfriend Ignacio (Raúl Arévalo). Sira and Ignacio’s relationship thrives on practicality rather than passion, with Ignacio’s stable government job in the middle of it.

It is no big surprise that Sira falls head over heels in love with typewriter salesman Ramiro Arribas (Rubén Cortada) within one second of meeting him, even with Ignacio right by her side. Ramiro is everything Ignacio is not, the salesman has fire in his eyes and flattery in his lips. With the imminent eruption of Spanish Civil War, and with the help of jewelry and stacks of cash gifted by Sira’s estranged father, Gonzalo Alvarado (Carlos Olalla), Ramiro and Sira head for Tangier for safety.

While in Tangier, the couple wine and dine with free spirited individuals, with Ramiro paying for everything using Sira’s money. Weeks passed until Sira discovers herself with child. Instead of standing by Sira, Ramiro steals what is left of her jewelry and money and leaves her with an insurmountable hotel bill.

Upon learning Ramiro’s betrayal, Sira escapes to Tétouan. On her way there, she loses the baby and then gets detained for the unpaid hotel bill. Once she gets her strength back, police officer Claudio Vázquez (Francesc Garrido) deposits her at Candelaria’s (Mari Carmen Sánchez) boarding house. The accidental ripping of Candelaria’s skirt allows her to discover Sira’s talent with needle and thread. And that is where the opening scene comes in. A former boarder of Candelaria owned the guns, and Sira is tasked to deliver them to a remote location in exchange for money. That money will be Sira’s capital to start her own dress shop. With the top of her head to the tip of her toes and the guns concealed in flowing robe, Sira successfully passes a checkpoint to deliver the contraband and evades gun-toting soldiers to get the payment and her ticket out of debt.

Sira’s dress shop is what every dress shop should look like: it is gorgeous in its opulence. After a few days of having a total of zero costumer, Sira and her assistant, Jamila (Alba Flores), work their butts off day and night to cater to the wives and daughters of high-ranking German officials in Tétouan. Sira’s creations are elegant, beautiful and fit for queens, perfect for the countless of dinner parties and balls thrown by influential Spanish and Germans in the area.

To while the time, Sira visits museums, reads books, know who’s who and gossip with Félix Aranda (Carlos Santos). Félix becomes the political and cultural guide of Sira while she meanders the all-new and complicated lifestyle of the rich and the famous. Through their wanderings, the captivating wonders of Tétouan unfold before the eyes of the audience. Tétouan is colorful, vibrant and intriguing – from the flea market that offers a variety of tea sets, exotic dyes and richly embroidered cloths to the cobbled stone streets that lead to ageless stone houses and museums.

A wardrobe emergency brings Rosalinda Fox (Hannah New) to Sira’s shop, and Sira does not disappoint with a lovely deep red gown that shows off every asset that Rosalinda possesses. It is a big boost to Sira’s reputation as the premier haute couturier in Tétouan because Rosalinda turns out to be the mistress of Juan Luis Beigbeder (Tristán Ulloa), the High Commissioner of the Spanish Protectorate. In order to show her gratitude to Sira, Rosalinda helps the seamstress in many ways, foremost of which are the reunion of Sira and her mother and Sira’s introduction to British reporter and eventual boyfriend Marcus Logan (Peter Vives).  

 The cast of El Tiempo Entre Costuras in Tétouan: Standing from left to right, Jamila (Alba Flores), Marcus Logan (Peter Vives), Claudio Vázquez (Francesc Garrido), and Dolores Quiroga ((Elvira Mínguez). Sitting from left to right: Sira Quiroga (Adriana Ugarte) and Rosalinda Fox (Hannah New). Photo from cineol.net

The cast of El Tiempo Entre Costuras in Tétouan: Standing from left to right, Jamila (Alba Flores), Marcus Logan (Peter Vives), Claudio Vázquez (Francesc Garrido), and Dolores Quiroga ((Elvira Mínguez). Sitting from left to right: Sira Quiroga (Adriana Ugarte) and Rosalinda Fox (Hannah New). Photo from cineol.net

When the Spanish Civil War ends in 1939, Sira and her mother are contented with their existence. But it is time for Sira to bid goodbye to Rosalinda, who is moving to Madrid to be with Beigbeder, who is now the Exterior Minister. Before they part, Sira gives Rosalinda a golden sewing kit and receives a photo of Rosalinda in that red gown that cemented their friendship.

A year later, Sira and Rosalinda meet in Tangier (Sira has paid her hotel debt in full) for a chat. Rosalinda asks Sira to go back to Madrid and put up another haute couture shop, but this time, it will be a hotspot for clandestine activity. Sira is to spy on the wives of German officials to aid British intelligence in order to prevent another war that will involve Spain so close to the end of Spanish Civil War. Another war that might debilitate Spain and place its citizens in a state of fear and insecurity.


To be continued.

This is a recap of Spanish series El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time Between Seams).

To continue reading the second part of the recap of El Tiempo Entre Costuras, please proceed here.

Stray Observation:

It took me almost three months to finish this series. First, it is entirely in Spanish with no subtitle and my Spanish is getting worse by the day. Second, there were too many characters as Sira met new ones in every city she visited. Third, each episode is over an hour. That is too many Spanish words in one sitting. I let out a sigh of relief once I reached the end of the series finale. Whew!

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