In a town totally centered on family, we are not related to anyone. We don´t have anything they need or want. We are no longer a novelty, so no one makes special efforts to include us. That´s normal, that is
Castilian, and that is OK by us. One thing we appreciate most about our village is their respect for privacy.
Because even though yes, we open the house to almost anyone who wants to come in, and yes, we host a lot of strangers and friends and acquaintances here, still, fundamentally, Paddy and I are both introvert. We are hermits.
When no one else is here, we spend our days in quiet, individual pursuits. We potter around the house, we paint pictures, we read and write and edit books and blogs. We do not talk to anyone. We hardly talk to one another. We are loners. To a lot of people, we are probably pretty boring. But we love our lives.
|How & where I spend my summer|
So, maybe making up for that lack, at the Moratinos fiesta I throw myself into the community fun and drag Paddy along with me. I sing the songs and snap photos of the processions, we fill our pew at Mass, we sidle up to the makeshift bar on the church porch. And since they reintroduced the annual costume contest to the lineup, I figure a way to dress up for the big Saturday evening dance.
Last year we turned a couple of cardboard boxes into wearable dice. Paddy happily filled that role. But this year, Lucía my Spanish tutor lent us some exotic Moroccan robes and an headpieces. We can dress up like Mozarabs, the people who lived in Moratinos a thousand years back -- how cool is that?
So this evening, in time for the 8 p.m. costume judging (as listed on the church door) we donned our burnooses and pinned up Paddy´s hem, and headed up the street. Paddy groaned and mumbled that the other men in town don´t dress up. I reminded him of last year´s cave men and pirates and Che Guevarras, and told him "You don´t get old and stop playing. You stop playing and get old."
We looked great, I thought. Good as two foreigners can look, dressed up like another kind of foreigner. Julia and a little group of relatives smiled and waved as we passed, and we saw they were wearing the clothes they´d worn to Mass earlier. But not everyone participates in the costume thing. We kept going.
I wondered. Last year, the costume contest happened after sundown, after the mobile disco music started up, after everyone had a glass of wine or a beer. Now, at 8, the sun was still high and white. Paddy´s sunglasses made him look like an OPEC oil sheik.
Gillen, a child I´ve pretty much watched grow up in the last seven years, spotted us from down the street. He pointed and laughed at us. We turned the corner into the plaza. The card tables were set up in the shade, the Brisca and Mus tournament in full swing. The games stopped, the faces turned to the two strange beings. Smiles. Incomprehension. Realization.
Victor, always a quick wit, bowed three times and said "salaam."
A cousin stood up and touched his watch with his finger. "The contest is not til 11 o´clock," he said.
I´d got the schedule wrong.
Yes, we are foreigners, yes, we live up in the Barrio Arriba. And yes, we are morons: me for getting the time wrong, and Paddy for not even bothering to look.
We came dressed up like Moors, but suddenly we were clowns instead.
"I have ruined my grand entrance!" I mumbled.
We foreigners scuttled home. The dogs snarled at us at first.
Eleven o´clock is two hours distant. The house is very quiet. I don´t know if we will make that long, long walk downtown again. I will have to re-do my makeup, and struggle back into that robe, and hear Paddy groan and grouse from inside his.
Next year Paddy says he will be out of town for the fiesta. If he lives that long.