Barstools & Dreamers

On Friday night, after watching Volver and eating pasta by my lonesome in my habitación, it got to be about 12:30, and some Erasmusvolk were having a good time at the Bar Negrito (after watching Crash dubbed in Spanish, “negrito” is their word for what Bull Connor would have called Martin Luther King Jr.). So I decided to amble on over through the Ciutat Vella (old city) and join them.

Some of the people who were bound to be at Fox Congo – not a place for me – were here at the Negrito, but left shortly thereafter. The remainders – Sarah from Madison, Stefan from East Germany, Vidar whom I went to see The Long Winters with, Ian from the Netherlands, and Vincenzo from Italy – remained and we talked about music, how Europeans don’t put a focus on lyrics but instead on beautiful women dancing to techno in the street (words attributed to a fellow nomad), the same old stuff, and what it meant for Italy that Prodi had asked to resign. Eventually there was only Ian and myself left.

Ian remarked that he was tired of the same old Erasmus gatherings, which were not exactly immersing us or expanding our boundaries. I agreed. We both live with Spanish people, and we agreed then that if either of us had access to a particularly cultural undertaking, that we would invite the other. It was toasted to and agreed.

Yesterday at four (an hour after I had awoken, I have GOT to wake up earlier) Ian called me. House fiestta in La Canyada, a pueblo outside of Valencia, to last all day. No question about it – soon we were on the tram line going all the way out to B-zone (that ain’t Valencia). When we arrived in La Canyada, it was about six-thirty. He called his compañera and she and her friend drove to pick us up at the tranvía. This is when we noticed something interesting. Both of them were dressed in unusual costumes and had on face paint. When we asked about this in the car on the way to the house, we learned that it was because the party had a theme, “fantasia.” So upon arrival we had to paint our faces and put on strange clothing, because these people went all out. And I believe that if you’re gonna do something, you better do it right.

The Spaniards had not only decked out in their costumes (or disfraz), they had also constructed considerable decorations for the room with numerous butterflies and a large holey board covered in colored translucent paper to make tinted light.

At first it was unusual, but as these things usually do at fiestas, they got more interesting. Before long we were playing a game called “Gestas” (which is just like “bitches, bitches” except with hand motions instead of vocalizations), and later on some of them began dancing flamenco. Also the Spanish are “cool,” as in “Hey, man, are you cool?” When dinnertime came, we raided the fridge tapas-style until there was nothing left and our hunger was mostly sated by circular hot ham-n-cheese sandwiches, ham-n-cheese pizzas, potato chips, and olive loaf.

When it was time to go, our driver (Ian’s roomate) spent thirty minutes driving lost through the neighborhoods until we finally found our way back onto the highway and back into Valencia. That was an interesting night. Even though I did not go to Paris or Madrid this weekend, I had an auk-cellent time with the Spaniards.

I did not figure out until this morning that we were all dressed up because everyone was celebrating Carnaval.

By Preston

Agent of Change, Former of Entropy, Seeker of a Stateless World.

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