Thursday, 24 January 2013

My first Spanish feria.

In Spain a feria is a local festival which often celebrates the patron Saint of the town. The party is normally fairly boisterous and consists of traditional dance, music, food, drink and of absolutely no time for sleeping whatsoever.

One of my friends, Lena, is a language assistant in a secondary school in Fiñana, a town in the Sierra Nevada, and 20th of January is the day when they celebrate Saint Nicolas. The Erasmus group at the university was holding a day trip to both the mountains and the festival at night, so a group of us signed up.

Starting off at 7:30am (!!!) we headed for the mountains however unfortunately excess ice which had gathered through the night halted our plans slightly. Nonetheless we managed to illegally park in a layby and have fun in the snow for a while. The view was stunning and I still cannot get over how beautiful the colours in the lake were.

As we had some time free we decided to stop in Granada for lunch. I couldn't have been happier with this plan and I finally managed to find a Moroccan wall decoration that I liked, something I've been meaning to do for ages. In the shops, most of the assistants usually assume that we're American, as there are so many American students in Granada, and so they always seems a little more interested when they find out otherwise. I had this charming conversation:
Shop Assistant: "De dónde eres?" (Where are you from?"
Me: "Irlanda del Norte" (Northern Ireland)
Shop assistant *with obvious excitement* "Ahhh! Gerry Adams!"
Me: ".....Um.... well .....ok."

Ah the day wore on it was time to head to Fiñana and by the time we arrived the town was already filled with the sound of exploding fireworks. These fireworks are not like those at home- carefully regulated by the town council, hidden out of sight and extremely colourful and child friendly. No, the three pieces of advice we were given when we arrived were: If someone offers you a lit firework don't take it, if you see people throwing fireworks on the street try to avoid them and when the main display begins open your mouth to allow the sound to pass through your body- otherwise you could seriously damage your hearing.

The streets were full of people drinking from plastic bottles which they had strung from their arms and everyone seemed to have red banners tied around their necks. The statues of the Saints were carried onto the streets to the sound of people cheering and singing and then the firework display begun. We were feet away from hundreds of rockets being lit into the sky and you could feel the ground trembling. The stocks were re-filled constantly but as this was happening local men let lit fireworks OFF FROM THEIR HANDS as casually as though they were just smoking a cigarette. In fact a few were doing just that at the exact same time. We had to run more than once to avoid them getting too close.

Meanwhile the town hall had provided wine, various meats and popcorn free to everyone watching. The wine was really good and the meat was from pigs which had been killed in honour of the celebrations earlier in the week (at least this is according to lena's angelic pupils). We hid from the cold in a local tapas bar and continued sampling the local delicacies before it was time to leave.

I had a brilliant day. The Sierra Nevada was beautiful, Granada never fails to disappoint and the Fiñana feria was seriously cool even if it was a bit mad.

1 comment:

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