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!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Let the Fiestas Begin!

Go, Fiesta!
February marks the beginning of the fiesta season, starting with Carnaval and its crazy costumes and lasting through summer into next September.  People here begin dreaming of feria, and the fashion shows up in Sevilla revv up to full speed.  This year I took Tia and Sasha, and we ooohed and aaaahed at the gorgeous dresses.  That’s about as close as I’ll get to one this year, given our retirement budget!

A gorgeous bouquet of gitanas
Checking out the dresses at SIMOF (Salón Internacioal de Moda Flamenca) in Sevilla

And then the fun begins.  Carnaval (literally, “Goodbye (from Latin "val") to the Flesh (carne, aka sins,”)  is the same idea as Mardi Gras and Carnaval in Rio, but lasts from the end of January through the week after Lent begins.  Originally a religious-influenced holiday, with the loosening of Catholic social structures after the end of Franco Carnaval is now a free-floating, long-lasting party that is also one of the cleverest I’ve ever seen.  Groups called chirigotas spend months planning and practicing their songs, and the singing is always surprisingly superb.

Click here, here, and/or here to watch some chirigotas in action in the streets of Cádiz.

Our home-made American chirigota

This year our friends Steve and Laura came to visit us.  Little did they know what they were in for!  They arrived just in time to get dressed up as American football players and cheerleaders.  Of course the men made the BEST cheerleaders.   They even learned a cheer, and we hiked the ball down Calle Luna.  What good sports our friends are!

What did we get ourselves into???

Charming cheerleaaders

Such good sports
We cruised around the bay (Puerto, Cadiz, Vejer, even down to Bolonia) with Steve, Laura, and their boys Isaac and Abe, showing them the best of our life here. 

Ancient beauty by the sea

And we ended up the month of February in two very beautiful Renaissance cities, Baeza and Úbeda.  Gorgeously preserved, they provided a dramatic immersion in history.  This is where the Spanish money moved to during the Golden Age of Spain (think New World gold).  Jaen is also the olive oil capital of Spain, and we toured the Mueso de Aceite de Oliva. 

Renaissance splendor

Calle de Úbeda
Party train

March would have been a quiet month but for the constant practicing of our band.  We are STILL amateurs, but starting to sound not so bad.  We are actually being ASKED to play.  Amazing.  So here’s to gearing up for FERIA, starting at the end of April!!   We hope to be able to play in a caseta again…!

In my dreams...
Loving Olive Oil Country..."A Sea Of Olive Trees"

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