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!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

La Boda de Lola

Catching a glimpse of a mystery palace

We’ve moved into this huge gorgeous palacio, and all I want to do is to share it with everyone.   Walking through the streets of Puerto, I have hungered to know what lies behind the big blank walls that line the sidewalks.  Occasionally you get a glimpse of an interior courtyard decked out with plants, the roof open to the sky.  But rarely do you get invited in to see these marvels.  Now I was living in one.

What lies behind these walls?

WE live behind these walls!

When Lola told me she was getting married and having trouble finding a place for the reception, my first response was to offer the palacio.   Lola is my flamenco teacher, a dark-haired, sharp-witted gypsy-look-alike who dances with a grace I can only dream about.  Her class counts double, as I learn both bulerias and Andalusian Spanish at the same time.  Only it’s tough for me with the constant banter competing with the keening of flamenco music as we warm up our wrists and feet; even after 18 months of class, I can follow only the general gist of conversation.  

The star and her students

It’s the special words and expressions that confound me.  Guasa sounded to me like the cellphone app WhatsApp, but it means bugginess or daring, depending on context.  It took me a month to decode “cho-cho;” I realized right away that it was some form of endearment, but every time Lola called me “cho-cho,” the other women would howl with laughter.  Turns out “cho-cho” means “little pussy,” (and I’m not talking about a cat here).  

Always joking around
Lola is unapologetic.  “I am who I am, and everybody knows it,” she says.  “I say what I think, that’s how I am.  But I love my students.”   When a male friend of hers walked in and she greeted him with smiling "Ayyy, piiicha!!" (Hey, penis!), I realized she loved me just as much.

Some of Lola's beloved students

So Lola needed a place for her wedding.  Hotel Monasterio down the street was already booked, although she managed to get the stage for the ceremony at noon.  After deciding to host the lunch at El Cortijo, a bodega close by, she asked if we could have the “after” party at the palace.  Sure, I said, and Todd agreed.

In front of the alcalde

And what a wedding it was.  Only Lola could pull off something so outrageous.  At first, as she told everyone, she just wanted to get married quietly at the Ayuntamiento (town hall).  Then her friends talked her into a lunch, and it quickly blossomed into a full-blown event.  Lola is a showperson with natural stage presence: For her entrance down Puerto’s main street, she did not want a car or a carriage.  For her, a tricycle decked out with balloons.

The grand entry

Her dress was designed and tailored by her friend and student Maria del Mar, a gorgeous flamenco-inspired work of art.  The mayor of Puerto came to Hotel Monasterio to officiate, and at the end Lola stood up and sang to him, breaking into a buleria and dancing the mayor across the stage.

Custom-designed by Maria del Mar

At El Cortijo, Lola and her new husband Francisco (Fran) entered the room throwing blue and yellow confetti in honor of Cádiz, Lola’s birthplace.  (She is, after all, known as “Lola de Cai,”  “Cai” being Andaluz for Cádiz.)  They sang Cádiz’s anthem, with the crowd singing along.  

Hail to Cadiz!

Those who sing together...stay together!

After a long and delicious 3-hour lunch, we moved on to our palacio at 5:30 pm.  And that is where the fun really began.  Lola sings to us every class as we practice bulerias.  The wedding crowd was packed not only with her family but with her students.  So it was only natural that once the gin and tonics were poured, the dancing would begin.

Lola in action

And dance we did, round after round.  Lola was at her best in her spectacular flamenco attire, and the crowd was appreciative.  The weather cooperated (mostly), raining in the end only about 2 in the morning.   

Fun with confetti

As guests slowly said their goodbyes and the music slowed down, Fran left to get the car, and Lola and I stood in the entry, a sound-asleep baby Gonzalo in her arms.  “Te ha gustado?”  she asked me, already knowing the answer.  “Did you like it?”  “Claro que si!”  I responded, and we laughed through the main events of the day, from my worry that I needed to send Tia and Sasha behind her to push her on the tricycle, to the mayor’s surprise at being danced across the stage, to the various performances of her students that evening dancing the bulerias. 

Lupe can dance...

Óle tu, Celia!

Even the guys got into it

And even the americana danced!

As I closed the door behind Lola and Fran, an exhausted Gonzalo tucked into his carseat, I again felt a great wave of gratitude towards Lola and Fran and Spain in general for making room for me in their lives.  Yet another reason why I love it here, and why I may never come back!  (Just kidding!  Sort of.)

My Lola

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