21 June 2006

Fiesta de Villalbilla

The little burb we live in here had a fiesta last weekend. It actually began Thursday night. Each night there was a mass scheduled. Turned out the mass was occurring in the tiny ancient little church around from the miniature town square. The square, plaza if you will, is so small I never noticed it even though I had driven past it dozens of times. It was just a paved area outside an anonymous building until now.

They put up your typical little stage with construction lights to shine on participants and a sound system. Thursday night was a local dance school recital type thing. I didn't stay just sort of passed through the plaza and headed on home. I was self conscious alone - Spainards tend to do things en masse.

Friday night Dar and I went down and one of our co-workers who lives around the corner came out too. There was a procesione after mass. A band of brass instruments and drums strolls, nay, drags along to a funeral dirge. Behind them came the kids who were doing first communion this year. Girls were dressed up in fancy white or cream dresses (a la Honor Star) and the boys had new suits or sailor/commander type suits. Not very many of them, less than 10. Then the local priest in fancy cape under a little canopy. Then came the congregants. We heard the music and skedaddled around the corner to watch not knowing which way they were going. We realized we were behind them and if we walked that way basically we'd become part of the parade. Not being members of the local parish, we opted to go back around to the plaza and wait for them to come by. It took awhile as the beat and thus the forward movement was limited by their mournful music and small steps.

A little while later the band came back without the church following this time, much more upbeat. They marched into an open area by tables. Everyone hanging out seemed to know that we were all supposed to move over there. After we were the only ones still sitting in some chairs, we decided we'd go over too. Apparently the tune is one that a local dance is done to and a slightly crazy tiny little woman was trying to get people to dance with her. Yes, I did. I'm not sure I got the steps but we had a good time.

After band-time, was free refreshments time indicated by "Apertivo" on the schedule. This was about 9:30pm or so. They set plastic plates of cheese puffs, potato chips, lunchmeat and cheese on the tables and you could get a free cup of soda or beer from a little bar they had set up. We were intrigued by a large group of people all reaching into plates with their fingers. Not sure that would fly in the U.S. at an official city event. Everyone suddenly knew it was time to go sit down in the chairs in front of the stage.

An operetta ensued. The dictionary had fish casserole or operetta as the definition of the word, so Dar kept referring to it as the Seafood Spectacular. It was a good show. Lots of traditional costumes (No! I didn't bring my camera!) Dancers between sets did traditional dances with the long ruffly skirts and castenettas. Every act or group had a costume change each time they came out, so it was pretty elaborate. The opera part was an actual troop from down in Alcala the bigger city nearby. People talked in the back, dogs fought, people shushed the teens who got loud, and came and went with none too soft goodbyes and greetings. This is Spain. At 11:15 pm, they announced an intermission, so another hour + was in the wings. We decided to head home.

Saturday morning Tif and I went to the choclotada. Free churros (like a donut with no frosting) which you dip in the hot thick chocolate drink they give you. The evening activities were rained out. We did a puzzle.

Sunday night "Fuegos Artificiales" were on the agenda. We guessed this was fireworks. I figured it'd be rinky dink from a little town. As we walked toward the plaza, we saw that the soccer/basketball court half way down the hill from our house had the fireworks set up. We sat on the sidewalk directly across the street from it. No one shooed us further away, it's that not major league on the safety thing again. We laid back on a Spanish sidewalk and were barraged by the concusion of the effects leaving the ground and again when they exploded in the air. We were so close they were bigger than what you could see at times. Other moments you were busy dodging the chunks falling out of the sky. Definitely a display I'm going to remember. I tried humming Stars & Stripes forever, but I was drowned out by the immense sound of the fireworks.

One would think this was it, right? On Monday night, I don't know why, they served a traditional stew at 9pm. You just stood in line and got a bowl of stew, basically big lamb or mutton meat chunks in a greasy broth. Plates of group French Fries stood on the tables. I asked a guy if that was his plate, he gestered and spoke enthusiastically that no, no, no, take some, take some, please go ahead. He was adamant. I wasn't really hungry but I was curious to see what all the events were. The stew wasn't bad, I'm not a big fan of cordero (lamb). It's a regional stew they told me each area has their own typical thing they serve. I probably won't be looking the recipe up for that one, but what a moment. It would be like being in some little town in Kansas on their special city day and you're the only tourist. By the end I was recognizing the people, so I wonder do they recognize me as that one American girl that's been coming?


  1. Sounds fun. You are living the life. Maybe you can invite the community over for on of Dar's costume birtday parties and show them how the crazy americans do it.

  2. It sounds like you end up getting more involved in the neighborhood than typically occurs in an American setting. That lamb stew sounds good.

  3. Kudos to Roamer the BRAVE!

  4. They have mass a lot don't they. Is that area mainly Catholic?

    It sounds like a party that never ends.

  5. How to tell an AG gathering from a Catholic one...the beverages!

  6. Very Catholic, though in name only. Very few go to mass, but everyone goes to the traditional celebrations or festivals.