Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Beginning of the End

Where: Bus to La Antilla
Listening to: “Never Alone” by Lady Antebellum
Word of the day: “flamenco”

In case you don’t read Spanish, I figure I might need to give you a brief rundown of Feria, the flamenco festival, which so far has been my favorite part of studying in Spain. Feria was last week here in Sevilla. It is a huge flamenco festival where all the students have the week off from school and everyone is in a great mood. It actually reminds me exactly of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo if every day was Tejano day. Or Flamenco Day I guess.
Feria started as just a three-day festival back in 1846. Since then it continued to develop and grow until the 1920’s which festivals most resemble what today’s is like. During the day, carriages and horses gallop through the streets, carrying people to and from the festivals. These people are called caballeros and wear a traje corto, a special suit with a short jacket. There are over 1,300 casetas, or tents, either public or private. The private ones are set up by different organizations, churches or groups of friends. Most have a security guard out in front checking tickets or names. The private ones range from being small like the size of a living room to being huge like the size of a church. All of the casentas have music, some even with live bands. Most have a bar with food and drinks in the back. The traditional food of Feria is fried fish and the traditional drink is a rebujito, a mix of Sprite and la manzanilla, a white apple wine. Rebujitos were delicious. Senora Vicki told us to be careful because it tastes so good but can make you crazy. She sounded like she was speaking from experience. The apple wine was terrible by itself.
I loved Feria because it really felt like we were experiencing the culture of Sevilla and Andalusia. All the men wore suits and the women wore flamenco dresses. Even little girls wore them and they were so adorable!! All the dresses are either solid in bright colors or bright patterns that would make Vera Bradley either jealous or appalled. They wear big, bright plastic earrings with matching necklaces or bracelets. Every single thing matches. The women pull back their hair into tight buns or leave it in loose curls. They then put a giant flower on the very top of their head in the center. They add these plastic hair combs with designs to the back of side of their head. All of their outfits just look so fun and festive. The bottom of the dresses swirl out every time the women walk, going out from their bodies like a mermaid.
The first night we went to Feria, Thursday, Tricia, Trav, Savio and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing. We wandered around in the festival for a bit. Finally we went up to one of the private casetas and asked the security guard where the public ones were. He got started talking to Tricia and for some reason, once he heard that she was from Kansas City, he let all of us in!! The tent was huge. We went to the back where we felt least conspicuous and got some rebujitos. We even ran into a group of other people from our program! It was so fun just to people watch and see all the different colors. Trav and I went to a smaller caseta to meet up with some of his friends.
The next night Haley and Laura came out with us. Our sister Vicki Jr. had given us two tickets to get into one of the casetas. Once we got to Feria, Nick saw someone getting a HUGE cotton candy, an alogodon dulce. He was enthralled. I have a great video of him envious gazing at the cotton candy. As the person walks away, he even says, “Don’t leave me.”

We went into this private tent and sat watching everyone dance. I went up to go get something and a boy came up to me and asked me to dance with him. Please note: I doubt he was over 16. And he had his tongue pierced. And as usual, my friends had a great time documenting this. I kept telling him I didn’t know how to dance (anything other than Scandinavian folkdances or the Macarena is a little too complicated for me), but he wouldn’t have it. His girl friends decided to teach me. Even though I spent way too much time with children born in the mid-90’s, it was still a lot of fun.
On Saturday we went to Feria during the day to see all the carriages. We also went to La Calle del Infierno, the amusement park section. It was so incredibly hot. Tricia and I got really excited to see all the rides so we decided to go on Maxi Kangaroo. It was so fun!!! Tricia and I had giant smiles on our faces and screamed the whole time. It was great. It also made me really sad that I had decided not to live in Kansas City this summer and work at Worlds of Fun, the amusement park, in a show there. Sorry Mom, never told you about that plan.
On Sunday we went to Demo to meet up with everyone then we went to Feria to watch the fireworks that close the festival. Unfortunately Trav got a little distracted by the cotton candy (he made me take before and after pictures of him) and we got distracted by the rides. There is one called Barca Vikinga, Viking Ship, that is your typical ship ride—goes back and forth, higher and higher. Except since this is Spain and they like to live on the edge, at the end of either side of the boat there were cages. You stood in the cages and as your end went up, if you jumped you would float in the air. IT WAS AMAZING!!! So much fun. Probably totally illegal in America too. After that, Tricia, Savio and I went on Mega Kangaroo (better than Maxi Kangaroo) and split a chocolate Belgian waffle.
All in all, I can see why the Sevillanos say that Feria is their favorite festival over Semana Santa. It was a blast.

This past weekend was the Sigma Alpha Iota formal!!! I made up that our school, the Spanish-American Institute, was a fraternity (Sigma Alpha Iota). Back at Mizzou, all of our friends were going on a fraternity formal this weekend, so it was only fitting that we had a formal of our own!
We took an hour bus ride to the quaint town of Islantilla, on the coast of Spain near Portugal. It was beautiful! One of the boys had connections so we were able to stay at a four-star resort, Oasis, for only 10 euros a person!! Well, and because we fit about 8 people in rooms meant for four. There were a lot of old people so we kept joking that it wasn’t really a resort, but a retirement community. Apparently you had to wear a swim cap to get in the hot tub too. Tricia, Laura and I learned the hard way.
It was really nice for all of us to be together, relaxing and soaking up the sun and each other’s company one last time. I can’t believe we are leaving each other and Sevilla in such a short amount of time. The semester flew by. It always makes me sad to leave people and places behind that have become such a part of who I have become. Though I am happy to be so close to going home, I am really going to miss this and all the experiences we’ve had. I feel so lucky to have been able to have a chance like this. I owe my parents so much for giving me the opportunity to come abroad and learn so much. I love you guys!

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