Europe celebrated Carnaval the last two weeks of February, which meant taking the streets in costume. The Asturian towns claim different weekends for their celebrations, with Oviedo’s celebration having been this last weekend, the 21st and 22nd. Oviedo experienced a large flux in tourism from surrounding pueblos, filling the streets as early as 5 p.m. for a parade leading up to the Gothic Cathedral. By day, the Spaniards crammed themselves full of frizuelos, crepes with marmalade and nutella, and turned the usual short siesta into a daylong event. By night, both the streets and clubs were packed with painted and glittered patrons, atochas in hand. Clowns, pirates, cows, Simpsons, those dudes from LMFAO, and robots ran through the streets singing. At times, I was thrown off by costumes that would be considered non-PC and had to remind myself that I am in Spain. What was truly incredible to me was the age range. Even the oldest of Asturians were dressed in costume, as muskateers, as medieval princesses, with wigs, and with masks. The parks that our parents beg us to avoid were full of the younger crowd; the main line Parque de San Francisco was maybe the craziest jungle of teenage hormones I have ever seen. A twelve year old girl dressed as a beer can and wearing Jimmy Choo’s leaped out of a tree in front of me, cackled, and continued to skateboard down the hill towards the main street. We reconvened in the Plaza de Paraguas, a merry group of 21 Philadelphians treating the occasion like Halloween. Maybe because of the mob mentality, of being in large groups and masked by a costume, or maybe because the crowd was full of people from outside the city, people were friendlier and enthusiastic to speak with us. Generally, it is difficult to integrate into new groups of people in Spain, but the group experienced some general success in nabbing up tandem partners who were eager to correct our mispronunciations.
The next morning, walking to El Fontan for the Sunday flea market, I noticed that there were people still dressed from the night before in the outdoor seating areas of the cafeterias. During my morning coffee, I was seated between Snow White, a skeleton, and the entire cast of Mario Party.