village fiestas

Spain goes from fiesta to fiesta and here in the village the first proper working week after the long summer has ended with celebrations in honour of Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Pilar de Arenas.

village fiesta band

There’s little enough money in the ayuntamiento coffers to pay for basic services, let alone for frivolity, so it was all very low-key – no circus sideshows set out down by the river, no barbecue and beer stands in the plaza. Even so, they did manage a five-minute firework display, with the fuegos artificiales being launched, as usual, from inside the castle.

With the first firework
startle from their castle nests

It was an extraordinarily muggy day. We heard firecrackers launched intermittently, though I don’t know if these were an attempt to make the clouds disperse or just the usual petardos that accompany so many Spanish celebrations. We watched from the verandah earlier in the evening as lightning danced round the valley, but it was a tormenta seca and the rain didn’t come.

An electric storm:
Nature is telonera
for the village fireworks

It was still really bochornoso when we left the house, but after the display, it looked for a moment as if the weather had finally broken as a few huge rain drops fell.

After the firework display
the sky scatters raindrops
big as old pennies

There was to be music after the fuegos, but, although the first band was due to start playing at 11pm, at 11:30 the stage was still covered. (This is Spain, and nightlife does tend to get started a lot later than in the UK.) People were joking that the cuatro gotas de lluvia had been enough to scare off the musicians. The more popular theory, though, was that the bands had heard they weren’t likely to get paid.

Eventually, the first group appeared. By this time, the plaza was far emptier than it had been, and I’d managed to find a space to sit on one of the very few benches. Although the music wasn’t bad, the audience continued to drift away. The elderly couple next to me didn’t stay long; “No es música para bailar,” she complained as they got up to leave. “En las fiestas del pueblo se baila.” I expect they were headed to one of the bars that was playing música folklórica tradicional.

Things livened up a bit when the singer joined the group on stage, a good half hour into the performance; the rest of the group were clearly local, but his American accent was impressive.

En la plaza del pueblo
de sus
“broken hearts”

Finally, around 1am, I think, the band we wanted to see arrived. There were more people in the plaza again by then, and the group’s repertoire was slightly more appropriate for dancing. Or maybe by that stage of the evening people had drunk enough to be able to dance to anything.

The band plays
“Losing my religion”;
Los viejos bailan
paso doble

When they finally drew the ‘evening’ to a close around 3am, with a heartfelt rendition of “Maggie May” I thought of Rick from “Casablanca” when he asks “If it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?”

It’s 3am in rural Spain
on stage it’s 1971
my heart is back in London

Like Sam’s, my watch had stopped, but I bet they were asleep in London. I bet they were asleep all over Britain.

Incidentally, although this is far too rambling an account to qualify, readers interested in the idea of inter-weaving prose and haiku might like to look into the haibun form.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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