Foggy heads and peculiar prizes
August. Fiesta and foggy heads, when normally depleted villages brim and cobwebs are blown from windows of old houses that stand empty for great lumps of the year.
Everywhere you find that roots lie dormant but are rarely severed. Families drawn to cities (not just Barcelona and Tarragona, but Mexico City and London too) flock home to pass the holiday with sisters, brothers, cousins, parents and grandparents, sitting out in the street or square talking into the new day.
So many things are certain. The sun will shine, the pace will slow, the world will shrink to family and old ways, the same rhythm will be laid down as ever was, and these tiny communities will twinkle in the happy surety of summer serenity and cheer.
Villages flare in turn, each fiesta lighting up the sky for a few nights when music is carried for miles through the still air and the little bars and restaurants squirrel for winter.
There are water fights, races, feasts, dancing and drumming, the last two of which have spelled graft for Ella and Joe.
Our neighbouring village is always one of the first to party. Ella’s troupe danced in the square in the midday heat, after the race and before the water fight.
For a good 15 minutes a band of strapping lads, young wenches and one old boy my age ran circuits round the block, waving and getting drenched every time they passed in front of the cheering crowd. Caesar, dressed in a sheet and boxer shorts and carried on a pallet by five foolish friends, was never likely to win, but maybe he didn’t fancy any of the prizes which were paraded (sadly) in a supermarket shopping trolley.
To the winner went a brace of live speckled hens, to the runner up a live white rabbit, and to the one who trailed behind them two gargantuan salad onions.
We tried in vain to buy the hens, couldn’t find the man with the rabbit and wanted to, but didn’t, ask why the third guy was a vegetarian.
A few days later and we entrusted Ella to the family of one of her school friends, in a village a good 25 minutes away. There the fiesta followed remarkably the same formula - yes, even down to the chickens, rabbit and onions race awards. I still haven’t got to the bottom of it.
I will post again in the next few days ....
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