The past two weeks, Spain has been in fiesta mode. It is the time of year for Carnaval, which is basically the last horrah before the start of lent. Everyone gets dressed up in disfrazes (constumes), parents included. This is
something I really like about the culture. In the States during Halloween, you usually only see the child dressed up, with the parent dragging themselves along with them in their normal clothing. But here, the whole family gets dressed up. I even saw some dressed up in themed costumes! While many of the costumes were really creative (I definitely wrote some ideas down for next Halloween…), there was also a handful that didn’t seem very PC from the point of view of an American like me. I needed to remind myself that I was in Spain, and what people here think is appropriate is different from what beliefs and customs were instilled in me.
Each major town in Asturias has a specific day dedicated to celebrate Carnaval. The first Saturday of Carnaval was in Aviles, where they fire espuma (foam) from a canon-like machine, into the crowd practically throughout the whole night. That’s the first thing I noticed when we got there, and a little while after there was a performance by a really talented drum line. Kids were going crazy over the espuma, sliding in it as if it were snow and their bodies were the sled. I didn’t join because it was rainy and cold, and we still had a
half hour bus ride ahead of us. There was a parade that followed the drum performance, and it had a pre-historic theme with floats of dinosaurs of all different sizes. I believe the Flinstones even made an appearance!
Monday night, it was in Gijón, which wasn’t as exciting for me. There was a stage set up for some type of musical performance, but it didn’t start when it was scheduled to. My friend, Nora and I basically just ended up hopping from one cafe to the next, trying to keep dry from the hurricane-like weather that we were experiencing.
I may be biased, but Carnaval was the best in Oviedo! In the town center in Plaza de la Catedral, there was a big stage set up where groups of people who were dressed up in themed costumes and debuted them on stage. One of my favorite performances was a dance team that was dressed up as the Adamms family,
but unfortunately they got cut short 🙁 Simultaneously, there was a parade going on where more locals marched throughout the town. All the young people celebrate and party all through the night, and this was very evident the next day when I saw the aftermath on the streets. My friend and I went on a walk through Parque de Invierno, on of the many beautiful parks in Oviedo, and on our way home, the street cleaners were STILL cleaning up from the day/night before! I’ve mentioned many times now that they are usually on top of their work, and to think that it is taking so much time to clean up really gives you an idea of how big of a fiesta the night before must have been. All in all, it was an awesome experience and I’m so glad to have been in Spain during this time of year!
Last Thursday was our third dinner with Jaime. We went to a restaurant in Oviedo called “La Mala Uva,” and once again the food was above par! We ate lots of small dishes, but by the end of the night we were stuffed and happy. For dessert, we had a traditional Asturian dessert called “arroz con leche,” which is basically the equivalent of rice pudding. During dinner, Ridge made a really sentimental speech to Jaime and spoke for
everyone when he said how much he appreciated all the work Jaime does for us. He took the words right out of my mouth, and really made me realize how lucky we all are to have such a caring and reliable program director, now friend, that is always willing to do what he can to make sure we are all satisfied!
This weekend, I’m going to Portugal with ESN and a bunch of other students from our group. I’m so excited because it is going to be my first time out of Spain since I’ve been here. It’ll be a nice change of scenery because I’ve been in Oviedo for the past few weekends. One more thing…I was talking with my host mom yesterday, and she told me that she can tell I’m understanding a lot more now and she can see my improvement. What a confidence booster! I’ll check in next week to talk about my trip to Portugal. Hasta luego!