Saturday, February 13, 2010

#10: Going to Cádiz

Hello blogosphere,

That last post concludes my retrospective story-telling section.  Of course, there are more stories to tell.  But I have neither the time nor patience to type them all out.  So for now, the tales of hitch-hiking across the snow-covered coast of Western Ireland, of swimming in the frozen waters of the North Atlantic, and of everything that has happened in Paris…well, they will have to wait.  You’ll have to ask me about those in person.

So let’s skip to today.  Jueves, 11 de Febrero de 2010.  I have been in Spain for over 4 months now, and I think my last posts have given you a pretty good idea of what my experience has been thus far: small-town boredom replaced with incessant travel and obsessive studying of Spanish language and guitar.  I hit a rough patch in the coldest, darkest days of winter, but I made it through and things are looking up. 

Now I must focus on the present moment.  No more retrospection, introspection, or circumspection.  The next two months should be wild. 

Catholicism is the explanation for my change in attitude.  Yesterday was the celebration for my pueblo’s patron saint, this weekend is Carnival, and in a month and a half come Semana Santa (Easter).  So there is a lot coming up and I can spend no more time writing about the past. 

This weekend I’m going to the best place in all of Spain to witness Carnival.  I solicited recommendations from every Spaniard I met, and almost all gave me the same answer: Go to Cádiz for Carnival. 

I leave tomorrow.  I have a four-day weekend and I have no idea what to expect.  I am staying with a friend I met through CouchSurfing, a girl named Aly who also went to UCLA and is also an English teacher through my same program.  I will be staying in El Puerto de Santa Maria, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from Cádiz itself. 

Cádiz is Europe’s oldest city.  According to myth, Hercules founded the city way back in the day, but historians tend to believe it was the Phoenicians in 800 BC.  Since then it has been (at one time or another) the richest city in Spain, the home of Spain’s first parliament, and the victim of attacks from Sir Francis Drake and Napoleon. 

I’m interested to see what it’s like today.  I hear good things.  I hear that it’s beautiful, right down on the Atlantic Coast.  I hear that the people are incredibly warm – at least compared to the more reserved folk of northern Spain.  I hear that the Carnival celebrations are unrivaled in Europe.  I also hear its going to be raining.

But no matter.  I scraped together a costume for Carnival and I have zero fixed plans other than catching the bus on Friday and hopefully returning in one piece on Tuesday. 

There will be a lot of festivities, but it is not just one big party.  Cádiz is unique in its celebrations, which include parades where groups sing satirical songs about the current events of the day.  

Obviously there are more things to see and do, but I am not sure what they will be.  I have spent the last week holed up in my room working on the first draft of my book and I haven't had much time to research Carnival. 

So it should be a surprise for both of us.  I’ll write back in a week and fill you in on what goes down. 


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