Sunday, November 10, 2013

A memory

Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you have had a wonderful week and a few moments to reflect on your life. If you need an excuse to reflect on life and pay attention to the things you are most thankful for, check out Kenzie at Chasing Happy's The Thankful Project Blog Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness through daily reflection. Today's prompt is 'a memory'.

I probably should be working on a big paper I have due Monday, but I really enjoy the project. It makes me happy to write posts like these and think back on some pretty awesome things in life. At first, this prompt was a little difficult. I really wanted to dig deep for a memory in my childhood that I was really thankful for, but I couldn't, because of a childhood trauma, a lot of my memories are repressed. That aside, I had to recall a recent memory to mind.

Just like I said in yesterday's post, I talk about my study abroad experience in Spain, a lot! I can't help it, but it is probably the happiest, craziest, most awesome time of my life and it happened of course I talk about it! Today's post is no different besides the awesome memory I am going to share.

I have a lot of memories from my experience that flood me when I think about that unbelievable time abroad. One part of my time over there really stands out in my mind, my host parents, Carmen and Miguel. They are fantastic human beings!!

Celebrating Miguel's 69th birthday with his favorite pastry! 
They knew, even from my nervous beginning abroad, that I wanted to dive into the culture, be with Spaniards, and learn Spanish. They did their best to help me navigate life in Seville and helped me learn the language. One huge part of the Spanish culture, especially in the Southern Spanish city I was in, they celebrate, Feria de abril. It is a genuine cultural event celebrating the coming of Spring. The event is celebrated for one week in April. It is a huge deal, there is even a special part of the city reserved, all year long, for this one week event. 

The dirt patch is prepared over 3 months for this event. By the time it arrives, the area is covered with casetas, or little, tent houses, vendors, and an amusement park-like spot with rides for kids and adults, alike. This part of the city is shut off from cars, bikes, skate boards, etc. and filled with pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, and people riding horses. The men and women are dressed in traditional Spanish garb, i.e. suits with a short jacket and Flamenco dresses. Families from all over the city dress up and come out to drink, eat, and celebrate. The casetas are where they dine, dance, and laugh the day away. The casetas are mostly private and they have to pay a hefty fee to get in. 

beautiful host mom

In front of the portada, the entrance, to the festival

So here is the awesome memory, my host parents are members of a caseta and have lots of friends who are members of casetas, as well. I wanted an authentic feria experience so I asked them if I could go out with them and their friends. We left a little after lunch time and met up with 3 of their friends. Feria etiquette is to take your friends to your caseta, feed them tapas and drinks, then, they take you to their caseta and do the same. 

We went to their friend's caseta, first. I could barely wrap my mind around the happiness I was feeling being totally immersed is the beautiful display of Spanish culture with my favorite host parents. The caseta we were in sat on the corner of an intersection in the conglomeration of casetas. We saw all of the action: the horse and buggies, the people dressed in traditional clothing, the sites, the smells, everything. I sat at the table feasting on tapas and tinto de verano, surrounded by 60-somethings chit chatting in Spanish. It was too perfect. 

sitting inside the caseta with their friends

Then, as if it couldn't get any better, a drummer came into the caseta to play a traditional flamenco tune, a version of Sevillanas. My host mom jumped up and started dancing. I was blown away by her soft, but fierce movements with the drummer's beats. Her and I had been practicing this dance at home because I wanted to learn so she invited me to dance with her. The paleness that came over my face when she asked me to join her probably made her think I had died. I was petrified to dance in front of Spaniards who have this dance ingrained in their heads since birth and I was going to be the gringo attempting to do it. Oh boy, but I decided I needed to live in the moment and enjoy that special time with her. Because.... when would I ever have the chance again to dance a traditional Flamenco dance with my host mom during a genuine cultural festival in Sevilla?....probably never. 

That was the epitome of embracing the culture, the people, the food, the language......everything and more that I had hoped to gain while I was abroad. I am so incredibly thankful I was able to go to feria de abril with my host family and share that memory with them. 

1 comment :

  1. That seems like such an amazing experience! Sometimes I wish I studied abroad. I want to visit Spain so badly some day! I'm jealous :)