La Feria de Abril & Portugal
I’m writing this post from a different perspective than the last, and the one before that. In fact, all of these posts have captured me from a different point in my experience, not just the experiences themselves. I’ve learned new things about culture, language, and myself every week here. Every day, even. If you can imagine a crazy geometrical, 20-dimensional figure, that’s what this experience has been like.
It’s my last week here in Sevilla now. To be completely honest, I’ve had moments where I wished for a pair of wings to take me home just for a few days. But I am incredibly sad to be leaving, to say the least. I think something clicked last week during Sevilla’s Feria de Abril, which is a week-long annual festival. The city really livened up for Feria. Suddenly everyone was out in the streets and the best part was that everyone was smiling. I had never seen Sevilla like that before. It’s like I really got to see the rawness of the Sevillano culture.
Feria starts off with an “illumination” on the first night. It’s like New York City’s ball-drop; the streets are beyond packed with people dressed in formal wear. Everyone squeezes to get the best view of the gate to Feria. Then there’s a countdown until midnight when the gate is lit up and the crowd charges into Feria. It’s a huge area filled with tents called “casetas.” Most are private, so it is a privilege to be invited to one. Every caseta has its own music, food, and drinks.
Starting the first full day of Feria, women in Sevilla walk around in their “traje de flamenca.” The women really take their Feria outfits seriously. Flamenco dresses are beautifully made and are often expensive. They also wear lots of jewelry, hair pieces, and of course the traditional flower on the head. We didn’t really think people dressed in flamenco dresses until we saw it! It’s serious! People from age two to ninety-two wear the traje.
A huge part of Feria is the dancing. Here they dance “las Sevillanas.” It somewhat resembles flamenco but there’s less intricate footwork and more partnering. It’s a dance of Andalucia (southern Spain). It was really neat seeing everyone dance las Sevillanas in the casetas, in the streets, and all around. (Here’s a YouTube link to someone’s video of las Sevillanas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv8HTr47N7s This is NOT my property.) I didn’t learn las Sevillanas, but I did get a flamenco skirt which was so much fun to wear amongst all of the beautiful flamenco dresses. Feria was probably an experience of a lifetime that I’ll never forget.
We went to Portugal the second weekend of our week-and-a-half vacation for Feria. Lagos, Portugal is a cute little beach town in southern Portugal. It’s only three hours driving from Sevilla. Unfortunately we were stuck with a very rainy and strangely cold weekend. But we were still able to visit beautiful sights, eat delicious food, and enjoy the Lagos atmosphere.
We went on a sailboat ride on the Atlantic around some beautiful caves. We also watched the sunset at a sight called “the End of the World.” That was just as beautiful. In addition to the sight-seeing, we ate at one of the world’s best burger places called Nah Nah Bah. Who knew some of the best hamburgers came out of Portugal!