Castillo San Marcos

Castillo San Marcos
13th-century castle, El Puerto de Santa Maria. That WAS our house to the left and behind the tree!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Carnaval en El Puerto de Santa Maria

Cádiz is king of carnaval here in Spain; the chirigotas illegales on every streetcorner continue to charm and enchant me (click here to see my first carnaval post).  (A  chirigota is a singing group, like the guys below, who wander the streets in outlandish costumes and, well, sing.)

A chirigota rollercoaster that sings

Unfettered from its catholic origins (carnaval is originally, like Mardi Gras, the last big blowout before the six somber weeks of Lent), carnaval extends beyond Ash Wednesday and into the weekends on either side.  A combination of singing, music, political satire, street party, and Halloween, the Andalusians don’t just dress up in any old costume to hit the streets.  Instead, groups of friends get together and dress up around some sort of theme.  Puerto has its own carnaval, lower-key but right down the street.  Perfect!

Creative and irreverent: A hilarious version of the flying nuns

When I got the message from my friend Angeline that we were supposed to wear white with a red bandana and be from San Fermín, I could sort of imagine it, but I had to do some research on Google first.  San Fermín is the patron saint of the July festival in Pamplona, that crazy place where locos run with the bulls; this famous and dangerous free-for-all event included, one year, my cousin Dean, and usually involves some 200 injuries each year and even the occasional death as runners/revelers (usually alcohol-fueled) get trampled at some point, either by the bull or other runners. 

Watch out for that bull!

What a great idea!  How hilarious!  Suzi and I got out our whites, our friend Montse provided us with red bandanas, and we found red sashes to match.  Now…what to do with Todd and Ethan?

Pamplona, here we come

Neither husband had white pants or anything red.  “I’m going in my gorilla suit,”  Todd announced.  “Oh, what a shame we don’t have anything to make Ethan into a matador,”  Suzi sighed.  But wait!  I had the perfect matador jacket in my closet, just a little too big for me!  And kulats!  And pink tights from Tia!  And a pink apron that could double as a cape!  Our friend Asun came through with a matador hat, we stole Griffin’s new toy sword, and a matador was born.

Olé toro!

Now..what about that gorilla?  How about…horns?  In a flash, horns were sewed to the gorilla’s head, and the first Bullrilla ever came into existence. 

Just as scary as the real thing...maybe more so

Fueling up to run

Why can't we be friends?

Ten runners dressed in white with red neckerchiefs hit the streets of Puerto that night, highly amused by the bull-and-torero combination.  Just to ensure that no one got hurt, four good sports dressed up as beautiful nurses and volunteered to follow us with the hospital (aka beer) cart down the street. 

Saving us from the bullrilla, one nurse down

And off we ran, making a grand entrance into downtown Puerto and followed by the Bullrilla who was himself chased by the matador.

Our grand entrance

Click here to see us run into Pamplona...I mean Puerto...

The bullfight was amazing….

The introduction...

An attempted matanza...

And the bullrilla scores! 

Luckily, no one got hurt—well, maybe just a little, but nurses were on-hand to prevent any permanent injury.

Lovely ladies

And the biggest hit of the night?  The Bullrilla, of course.  Everyone wanted to dance with him!

Now the big question is:  What do we do for NEXT year?

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