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, May 15, 2016

My Last Ferias for a While

At the pescaito de Sevilla, the opening night of the Sevilla feria
I love feria.  I just do.  There are some people who don’t go, who don’t find it enjoyable.  When I sent my brother-in-law, Ethan, a picture of Todd and me at feria, he wrote back, “Better you than me!”  And it can be annoying:  It’s loud, as in top-volume loud, with multiple competing musics, noise and loudspeaker voices.  

Stuck in the Street of Hell, attempting a selfie.  I need earplugs.

It’s also expensive, 3 euros per kid for a amusement-park ride in the aptly-named Calle de Infierno or Street of Hell, expensive and usually mediocre food (unless you know where to look), at times caseta-to-caseta crowds, the enormous amounts of litter that accumulate, and the always-present danger of being run down by a horse-drawn carriage. 

Watch out, wild partygoers ahead!

But I still love it.  I’ve learned to go at times which are not so busy, and to pace myself (I gave up staying out until dawn, because then I can’t rally to show up at the next day of feria!).  This year I didn’t buy any feria dresses, only expensive mantones (shawls) to accent my already-ample dress collection. 

New beautiful shawl from Begoña for our show during the Patio fiesta
Dancing at our pre-feria party with Isaac in another new lovely shawl, a gift from my Badajoz/Jerez friends!

Unfortunately, this year the Rota and Puerto ferias coincided completely, the dates right on top of each other, Puerto starting the night of Wednesday, April 27th, and Rota the next day at noon.  That led to me running from one feria to another, Puerto during the day and then Rota that night, and then Rota the next day for lunch and Puerto that night. 

At the Puerto feria, daytime ops
I showed off my new-found talent of dancing the sevillanas with castanets, known as castañuelas (chestnuts) or palillos.   I had been trying to learn how to play them for over two years, looking on the internet for various sites to help me.  I mean, how hard can it be? 

Castanets as my badge of honor

Well, pretty hard, it turns out.  After zero success, I horned in on my friend Charo’s castanet classes, run by our profesora Veronica.  In two sessions, she had me clackety-clacking away.  By feria time, I could actually dance and play at the same time.  It took an excellent teacher like Veronica to watch what I was doing and make the small adjustments—thumb bent, not straight; don’t curve your fingers; relax your shoulders; move your hand a little; use all four fingers! (I like to cheat and leave out the index finder); keep time with the right hand. 

Queens of feria; but someone stole my castanets that night.  Oh well, easy come, easy go.
Click here to see me dance and play at the same time!!

Rota is a lovely feria, but I am from Puerto.  After two days up at Rota, Puerto called.  We have quite a few friends in Puerto now after 5 years, and that makes Puerto my favorite feria.  It’s not the most beautiful or the most elegant or the most clean, but it’s MY city, and that makes it the most fun for me. 

Heading off to the Puerto feria

I spent Saturday until midnight looking for music, but it was so crowded.  Sunday we went to the presentation of the Fiesta de los Patios awards (we won 5th place, along with our friends the Hannons, for opening our palacios to the city earlier in April).  I hung out for a while with my friend Coco Hutchison, who rules the Tirititran caseta. 

My friend Coco, another Española-Americana who is 1000 times more integrated than me!

But Monday is my favorite day.  All of the out-of-towners are gone, most of Puerto has the day off, and there’s a lot going on, just without the crowds.  My purple-and-yellow dress, given to me by Rowena several years ago when she returned to the States, turned out to be a favorite this year, and I went in search of the bulerías.

Teaching the sevillanas

And did I ever find them!  There was group after group, and I danced, danced, danced, danced, finally understanding.  The bulerías are a type of improvisation within a certain form, and I nailed it this year, feeling comfortable and confident, even though I have a lot of room for improvement.  

Click here to see me dance...yet again...

After going from one friend’s caseta to another, I dragged myself home, ready for a break.

Kids in feria... "Mom, when are we going home???"

Super-feria-style in Converse

But not for long.  Jerez had to overlap BOTH Rota and Puerto’s ferias, with all three coinciding one night.  By Wednesday I had recovered enough to head to Jerez with Begoña, Charo, and Glenda, feeling gorgeous in my new pink silk shawl over my fanciest dress.   Jerez and its horses were extraordinarily beautiful, and the glamour was, as usual, over the top, but still, I didn’t like the crowds, and had trouble squishing forward to get a chance to dance.

A whole new outfit with my new silk shawl (also from Begoña!)

With a gorgeous shawl and enough flowers, anyone is lovely!

My cousin-German-sister Fiona came to visit, and while Jerez got hit with some rain, it cleared up for us by Saturday to have one last day there.  Fiona looked amazing in my green dress.  

Who wore it best?  Clearly Fiona is the winner, 100%!
Together with Glenda, Ana, Mike, and their Colombian friends, we traipsed around Jerez, dancing and eating and drinking until Fiona’s shoes fell apart! 

Green tape to match the green dress

Love my German sister cousin

We have one more feria, this Sunday in Sanlúcar, after which we will be done for quite a while.  But I’m not selling a single dress—I’m packing them all up to take with me back to California, along with all the accoutrements.  Who knows, maybe one day I WILL open a flamenco academy in Imperial Beach!

Our inspiration,  teacher Jaime with his students

Last feria for a while...

Viva la feria!

1 comment:

  1. What a whirl! Beautiful dresses and dancing! Love the stylishly repaired shoes!


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