Sunday, 17 August 2008
La Fiesta de mi Pueblo
They´re still out there dancing at coming-on 1 a.m. We had some spectacular low-altitude fireworks this year instead of the same old skyrockets. The plaza is littered with shell-casings, the air is clouded with cordite, and dogs are cowering under beds all over town. Then, just after midnight, the little electronic keyboard man got going with "Girl from Ipanema" and "La Paloma Blanca" and "Beer Barrel Polka," and all the ladies started whirling over the pavement with their sisters-in-law. (The men only join in after the third round of drinks, when they hear some favorite old Paso Dobles and sambas.) The Plaza Mayor is bouncing and twirling and hopping as it does just this one night of the year.
Way overhead, the earth is eclipsing the moon. The night is full of wonders.
Rain fell off and on through the day, the first rain in many weeks, so the mood was a little dampened this time around. The Mass was a packed house of 60-some souls, but there was no pipe and drum to sing the saint around the square.
Alcalde Estebanito said it´s on account of "the crisis," the national economic strain he also blames for his ongoing use of a banana-seat bicycle he´s been riding ´round town from age 12.
He said that´s also why this year he passed on the fabulous old tuxedo-clad cross-dresser and her guitar-strumming "Orchestra of Strings" for the afternoon entertainment, and opted instead for a magician who pulled scarves out of Modesto´s ears. Instead of a live band with a sexy singer and flashing disco lights for the nighttime dance, this year we have Marcellino´s Mighty Wurlitzer.
I think, Estebanito being Estebanito, he used the money instead to buy the flashy fireworks. Men around here are mad for a good explosion, and they can buy locally-made fireworks as close as Becerril de Campos, about 30 km. from here.
Yeah, they had to set them up in the middle of the street, and yeah, there´s no super-qualified guy hired to electronically choreograph each one under cover of heavy liability insurance... it´s Manolo and Jose and Pin, our resident pyromaniacs, lighting each fuse with a well-sucked cigarette, then running away to a chorus of "Corre! Corre!" ("Run like hell!")
And I´m here to tell you, these fireworks are as good as anything I´ve seen on Fourth of July back in the US of A, except there´s more of a pause between each display... and they explode right above the tops of the trees. Burnt cardboard and soot showers down from the sky and cuts through the trees and bounces off the ground. My hair is full of little bits of confetti. Fireworks here are downright Interactive!
And at the end of it all, after the Grand Finale and the cheers die down, the mayor´s voice booms down Calle Ontanon: "The Coronation Rose Bouquet Tribute! What happened to it? Did you keep the receipt?"
The moon emerged. The smoke cleared. The little children chased one another across the darkened square, and the music started up again.
We did a polka and a samba, and were sucked into a furious Conga line of giggling ladies. This year we didn´t last long. We crept away into the darkness before Paddy could whirl a succession of neighbors round the pavement as he´s done the past two fiestas... We really were worried about Una, who is petrified of simple skyrockets. And sure enough, when we got home, we found her shivering in the downstairs bathroom, thinking the Apocalypse was Now. (Tim, the hunting dog, hardly notices the bangs.)
And to be truthful, we are tired. Maybe tomorrow I will write about what happened in the afternoon, and maybe I´ll come back to this post and fix up all the mixed verb tenses. (We gave a deluxe tour of the Peaceable to the family we bought it from. The people whose family lived and worked here for generations out of mind. It was hard on everyone, I think.)
So we are pooping out early. Now that we´ve become part of the local scene we have nothing to prove...but we can play the Foreigner Card when it comes to staying up til 4 a.m. dancing Where we come from, you don´t do that when you´re over age 30. Or your dog is scared. Or your lungs are on fire from all that gunpowder!