27 August 2006

Night of Contrasts

I went down to the feria Saturday night with some people from work. I accidentally ordered two sandwiches, somehow, at a grilled meat booth and had to shout to be heard by the guy. At first he shrugged and pointed at the cashier. I must have looked pitiful because he went and intervened for me. I had grilled pork loin on a fresh chunk of bagette bread. Good eats.

Our pre-25 years workmate wanted me to do a ride in the carnival. We ended up on two different ones. The first was a scrambler type thing only it went in circles and hopped up and down. It was vigorous, fast, and fun. Nearly lost the coat I was sitting on - worked it's way up and almost out the back of the car from all the bouncing. The operator had a microphone and shouted at us, in addition to playing loud music and blowing smoke on us during the ride. He'd yell things like, "You want some more of that? Raise your hands!" in Spanish of course. Then he'd drop the cars and you'd fly out of your seat and hit the security bar. I'd never been taunted by the operator of a ride. It was funny.

The next ride was a giant swing of sorts. The fist that held all the people twirled and simulataneously swung back & forth. Up to that weightless bounce but not all the way upside down. The music was so entirely loud you had to scream full volume to be heard. We had to wait one round before we got on and the supervisor joking with me made the sign of the cross over the group before us. The whole carnival was loud but this was insanely loud and my throat hurt afterwards from yelling and screaming on the ride. (Both for conversation and for fun.) My ears were ringing which concerned me - the second half of the evening was to be refined and I hoped to hear it.

Three of us had a civilized "coffee" at a sidewalk cafe and went to a chamber orchestra. It was in a room that reminded me that Italian courtyard at the Nelson. The one with stone arches and the sky/ceiling feels like outside and night, you know? This was a 3 story courtyard of ancient stone, carved beautifully. Two slim cyprus trees pushed up to the open sky in one corner. Moths danced in the stage spotlights. Stars shone overhead. When the strings started on some of Mozart's most familiar stuff, it was truly magical. The venue really made it shine.

The midnight crowd for the orquestra was mostly over 60, though there was a sprinkling of young people in the mix too. I looked around several times and never saw anyone nodding off. It was such a quiet acoustical environment that you heard every cough. One lady opened her purse to put her fan away and it sounded like someone was doing the rasberries. When it got quiet between songs, you could hear the band thumping away some rock music in the main plaza nearby.

The second half had a dancer who did some flamenco style dancing with castanettas. It was interesting the way she could keep up with the classical music with the little wooden clakers. It wasn't quite tradiitonal flamenco, but it was interesting expression of the dance style with classical music.

We were headed home about 1:45 am. The streets were still hopping with people and the band in Plaza Cervantes still sang strong. It felt like a truly Spanish night. An epiphony -- of knowing that the people do this late-night thing, but here it was for real to see with my own eyes. A fun sensation to experience it and not simply know of it. Probably won't do that every weekend though!


  1. When I was younger another kid and I had a run in with a ferris wheel operator at a county fair who didn't let us off the ride for a half hour. I didn't mind much, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get off to pee.

    I think I'd have some trouble to adjusting to the change between carnival atmosphere and refined classical atmosphere.

  2. The treasure amongst the trash...I love it.

    You are living la vida buena!

  3. i stayed home and slept like a LOSER!

  4. Sounds fun. I love carnival rides.

  5. Man, now you have me wondering what blessed blood line I have in me! I've always thought my love for nights was a weird freakish thing, never thought about it being a cultural trait that could have been passed down until I read your blogs. You make me long for a home I've never known! :)