Published: November 12th 2006November 12th 2006
Chelsea and her host dad Juan Miguel with the jack rabbit that was shot earlier that morning. Juan Miguel gave me the tail.
No big travel events in the last two weeks but more culture than you can shake a stick at. Halloween is not celebrated here in Spain, but All Saints Day is. We had November 1st off from school and I went to the farm of another ISU student´s host family. We picked olives, scared sheep, and even skinned a rabbit. I did not skin the rabbit, I just watched. Oh, and it is not really a rabbit, but a large jack-rabbit of the Spanish variety. Juan Miguel, Chelsea´s host dad, got the rabbit just that morning.
A professor of ours complained to us about how the American-style Halloween is taking over Spanish traditions of All Saint´s Day (like roasting chestnuts and going out for a picnic--in my defense, I ate chestnuts while at Chelsea´s parent´s farm), and was especially mad at the local bars and discos for leading the youth astray with costume parties and the like. Well, I went to one of the cotume parties and the best part was that I even had a costume to wear. My conversation partner, Mar, had costumes she made for Carnival years ago available and we went in those. We were voted
Téresa and me
I ran into Téresa on the way out of the apartment before heading out to the costume party (I am a medieval prince, if you couldn´t tell). Of course, it made for a photo opportunity
best costumed and won a printer. It was quite a night!
Last weekend was the annual Celtic Music festival here in Cáceres and there was some excelent fiddling, piping, and concertina-ing to be heard. We went to a concert in el Gran Teatro Friday night and went to a few sessions over the weekend. Sessions were basically jam sessions where the pros, students, and anyone with an instrument packed into bars to drink, smoke, and most importantly, play awesome music. My favorite part had to be watching the group we had just seen in concert around a tiny table loaded with beer playing whatever they felt like it. Also cool, the fiddler could smoke a cigarrette while playing and never miss a run...not something you see everyday. Also a technique probably not widely encouraged.
This weekend was the begining of the Festival de Flamenco de Cáceres. The festival consists of two events, the flamenco guitar concert this weekend and a flamenco dance and music show in two weeks. I do not know two events constitute festivals elsewhere in Spain. Anyways, we went to the guitar concert and it was fantastic. The flamenco guitarists are all from Extremadura and
Before winning a printer
Mar, me, and a guy that was also in costume at the bar. I think there were a total of 7 people in costume (including me and not the bar tenders) out of a very full bar. Needless to say, we felt a little silly at first-- but then we won a printer.
were very impressive. Also featured was a Portugese guitarist on an instrument I had never seen before...smaller than a guitar, it reminded me of a mandolin. It had a very metallic sound, like a dulcimer, I guess. Anyways, the musician was at least 60 years and old and he could play! He improvised with the much younger flamenco guitarists as an encore and it was obvious that he was keeping them on their toes.
There was also a medieval market in the old town this weekend. Lots of vendors and some good food. My favorite place was the Arabic tea house, complete with small cushion chairs and glass tea sets. It was pleasant during the days with all the colors and smells. There were huge spice and tea stands selling all kinds and colors of things. It got crazy at night, though. As 1 in every 3 Spaniards smoke, walking up narrow, medieval alley ways shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone else in the crowd became an adventure as 1 in 3 people had burning cigarrettes in their mouths or more commonly, in their hands. I did not get burned, but not all the Iowa Staters were so lucky. You would think such conditions would deter one from smoking, but alas, not so.
A week of classes and then Thanksgiving break. Don´t tell anyone that I told you, but we are getting a week off for Thanksgiving, even though there is no Thanksgiving this side of the Atlantic. Our program coordinator decided that because the spring group always gets Holy Week off, the fall group should have a similar break. So, next week will find me in Madrid and then in Barcelona. And hopefully, I´ll be back in Cáceres in time to catch the last event of the flamenco festival.