Las Fiestas en Honor del Santísimo Cristo del Paño - Saturday and Sunday 6th and 7th October
Exhausted! That is how we now feel on this Sunday evening as the fiestas draw to a close. We know most village fiestas are just as much of a food and drink marathon, but having been involved this year, with our humble little gallery, we feel that the weekend has been pretty all-consuming. It is something of a blessed relief to be in our casita getting ready to have a home-cooked dinner knowing that there is no wild dancing session or round of drinks to come as dusk turns to night.
We have learned so much about our village over the course of the past 3 or 4 days, and have cemented friendships, met new people, gained a lot of confidence in our Spanish and generally felt immersed in village life. There is no doubting that what you do in a village the size of ours does not go unnoticed. As I have said before, we believe that it has been appreciated that we put our little house to good use during the course of the festivities, and our neighbours have taken a keen interest in what we do. We feel that we have made inroads into the strong bonds that naturally exist amongst the local population. This was helped immeasurably by Andrew’s turn on the dance floor with our delightful neighbour Mari Petra - I think the whole village must have witnessed the two wheeling around the marquee in a very presentable Paso Doble. Certainly, over the course of Saturday and Sunday many people took the time to mention Andrew’s dance prowess…..
So, after the big day of 5th October, the partying continued and where the locals get their stamina from is anyone’s guess. Needless to say, our local bar will not be open tomorrow (Monday) and everyone who has worked ceaselessly over the weekend looks ready to drop. We have seen everything, from covers of Disney classics, the dance floor wobbling so much that the tier of speakers fell to the floor and the guest appearance of a band with well over 30 years of popularity here in Spain and who looked rather like very aged BeeGees. The village has rocked to the sound of tribal drums, and contemporary brass bands; villagers have danced in the square and under the marquee. Huge quantities of drink must have been consumed, but you never see the after-effects - there is no unruly behaviour, nor the sight of intoxicated individuals sitting in the gutter. Our memories include the sight of a mother laughing herself to tears with her three young adult sons around a table at the bar, different generations of families dancing together on the dance floor, Villagers surrounded by their children, cousins, brothers and sisters, and dressing up in their finery for a great night out. It is easy, in such tight-knit communities, to feel something of an outsider when you see that almost everyone knows everyone else, but any such feeling is fleeting when the spirit of the affair is so good-natured and the people so welcoming.
Having our gallery made a huge difference to us. We spent much of each day outside, providing us with plenty of opportunity to say hello to anyone who humoured us. We got introduced to friends and families of our neighbours, we met many visitors to the village, sold beer to some of them, and chatted to every passer-by. We even managed to sell some of our creations. It has been said that not as many people attended this event as in previous years. It has also been said that works of art would not sell at fiestas like this. We knew this, but what we wanted to achieve was to create a pretty corner of the main square, something of a calling-card that would introduce us to Moclín and give villagers a glimpse into our lives. We probably didn’t expect this to be literal, but some visitors felt it was quite alright to wander in to our apartment to have a nose through our merchandise - yesterday, someone wandered in as they had heard we had bags to sell; I was ironing! Good job neither of us was in the bathroom as our casita leaves little to the imagination when it comes to privacy.
We hope this doesn’t sound like a smug and self-satisfied appraisal of what is, to Spanish people, a routine part of village life. Although, it probably isn’t that routine when you realise that these events are what bring whole families together. We were delighted to meet Mari Petra’s extended family and her daughters today, for example, and it does mean something to feel that we are considered welcome enough to warrant such introductions.
We have had a fabulous weekend and probably for the first time we have not just felt like outsiders looking in. We live here, have a house here, people know who we are and have a little more idea of what we do - paint, bake cakes, chat in far-from-perfect Spanish to anyone who will listen and (in Andrew’s case) lead a lovely lady around the dance floor in a flamboyant Paso Doble .