Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A red day

Yesterday was a red day, or that's how we think of it, though strictly speaking I think it was a blue day as it was Día de Andalucía, a holiday for this region, whereas a red day is really a national fiesta day. Either way it was a Bank holiday, and a day off for most workers, school children etc. In our village it was a busy and exciting day as, for cost cutting reasons, the town hall decided to combine Día de Andalucía with Mardi Gras, which actually falls on Tuesday 8th March, so yesterday, for us, was also carnival day. To avoid this becoming a too long missive, I will talk about the first celebration today, and the carnival next time. Things kicked off around eleven. Chris and I wandered over to the marquee near the plaza, that is still there from Three Kings day. This time, apart from the usual bar running along two side walls, there was a stage at one end and the rest of the space was taken up with long trestle tables, lined with chairs, and a few extra stacks of chairs at the sides and in front of the stage. The tables were already laid out with plate after plate of meats, cheese, sausages, salt fish, olives and hunks of rustic bread. They were then covered with another layer of paper and secured with tape in a few places. It struck me the difference between behaviour here and what it would have been like in a similar situation in UK. Soon most of the chairs were in use, including the stacks which were soon squeezed into every available space. The bar was doing a good trade, and children from toddlers to teens were passing in between us all, yet throughout the next three to four hours of entertainment, not one person lifted that paper to take an early taste of the food underneath! The backdrop to the stage had attractive banners representing the various provinces within the area (or to give it its proper name, the autonomous community) of Adalucía. From left to right, they read, Almería, Granada, Jaén, Córdoba, Málaga, Sevilla, Cádiz and Huelva. Of course, the green and white bunting is the Andalucian flag.

There was an opening speech by someone from the town hall. I didn't understand much of what he said but we clearly his shout at the end - "Viva Andalucía!" - which sent a huge cheer resounding round the marquee. We watched children from a local dance school doing flamenco dancing, and then some others doing hip-hop (Spanish style). Then another dance school did flamenco, and they were very good. They had one older lad in their group, and the teenage girls obviously enjoyed it when it was their turn to partner him! My friend's grand-daughter was in one of the younger groups. Finally the village choir sang several songs. I recognised one tune and heard the words "Lo hizo mi manera" and realised that they were singing a Spanish version of "I did it my way".

When the singing ended, the paper covers were removed from the tables and everyone tucked in with great relish. I shall never get used to the big piles of raw peas and broad beans that arrived along the tables. They break open the pods and eat them raw, which of course, we did with peas as children, when dad grew them in the garden, and we were given the job of shelling them, but I have never been a huge fan of broad beans and I'm not sure my tummy would cope very well with them raw! We had a seat in the marquee and could have helped ourselves to lunch too, but we decided to go home and check on the dogs. They get quite disturbed by all the noise and loud music, and this all takes place just across the green zone at the back of our house.

Come back tomorrow for the story of the carnival!

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