There's still just so much to share about Spain...but I really do need to wrap this up, because me life is speeding by and I have more to post about family and if I don't do it soon...I'm going to be playing catch-up foooreevver (name that movie).
I wanted to tell you about an amazing flamenco show we saw at El Corral de la Moreria, currently the best Tablao Flamenco in the world. Flamenco is a beautiful, haunting, passionate, and often misunderstood (by gringos) style of dance. It's gypsy in origins, and therefore has a strong Middle Eastern feel to the singing (think of the sound of Muslims being called to prayer). It's about the hard life of gypsies...nomadic, often despised, hard, with the pain of love and the ache of loss. The dancers rarely smile...in fact, they often look to be in pain...and I guess in a way...they are.
The crowd was rowdy and drunk...and it took awhile for them to get into the feel of it...to really appreciate it as a beautiful art form. Jason and I knew what it was about, and both of us were getting rather fed up...but then the old man playing guitar stopped in the middle of his solo and waited until he had the crowds attention...demanding, with out any words, their respect.
And from that point on, we had a very engaged and appreciative audience...which made our experience a million times more enjoyable.
I was also thrilled to wear this pretty "Spanish" dress I borrowed from a friend to wear at the event...I felt like I fit right in!!
The next night...we went to a bullfight in Madrid. We actually visited Madrid in the middle of the Festival of San Isidor, who is the patron saint of Madrid. San Isidor was a poor farmer, but he and his wife always managed to feed the less fortunate, even if it meant that they went hungry. He was also kind to animals. It is said that his master often saw him plowing in the fields, with an angel plowing on either side of him, showing that his work was equal to that of three men. His generosity, empathy, and strong work ethic gained him the respect of all his neighbors and community.
Today, he is celebrated by a 3-week festival that hosts bull fights every night of the week (which I think is rather ironic, considering his is the saint of farmers and farm animals, and gained that sainthood partly by his reputation for being kind to animals). There are six bulls killed a night over 21 days...do the math.
The bull fights sell out years in advance...so we were very lucky to get tickets at all...let alone at such good seats. Our evening was sold out...all 23,000 seats were full...and the King of Spain was actually in attendance...
THE FOLLOWING PICTURES ARE GRAPHIC IN NATURE
I'm not going to go into the details explaining all the parts of a bull fight...who does what and when, what everything stands for and means. I am glad that we went, because I wanted to experience Spanish culture...all parts of it.
However, I can tell you that it is something I have no desire to ever do again. And from my seat, looking around at the audience, I can tell you that it was a very mature crowd...it seemed we were some of the youngest people there. This told me that bull fighting is a dying tradition in Spain...the young, future generation of Spaniards want no part of this custom.
And although we stomached all 6 bull fights, and I know that these bulls are treated better than any cow that ever made my hamburger, and I know that every part of this bull will be used for food and leather and whatever (in fact, the meat of these bulls is awarded to the top restaurants in Spain)...
I still found it to be barbaric, cruel, and a completely unnecessary form of "entertainment". However, I can tell you that the third bull fighter was a master at his sport. He was as beautiful and majestic as one could be, doing what he was doing, and earned several "Oles!!" with each pass of the bull...so close that by time he was done, he was covered in the bulls blood.
In fact, it was so well done that he was actually awarded BOTH the bulls ears...a rare gift. He was paraded around the ring while flowers and hats and shawls were thrown at his feet from admirers, treated to a salute of the entire audience waving white handkerchiefs in the air, and carried out of the stadium on the shoulders of the people. Receiving both the ears of the bull you have killed is such a seldom treasure (the last time it happened was decades ago)...that it was actually broadcast on ESPN that night.
I only have one more post about our trip...and it's from my FAVORITE activity that we did. I will write that tomorrow (I hope)...but before I go, I wanted to say that one of the reasons I had such a good time on this trip (besides the beautiful locale, amazing food and excursions, and being with my best friend in the whole wide world)...is that I really enjoyed spending some time with friends.
We were able to spend some time with several couples we met last year in Hawaii, and made lots of new friends as well. I could name LOTS of names...but let's just say that I'm REALLY hoping we all make it again next year because I don't think that I can get enough of these people.
I was REALLY glad that there seemed to be a good amount of REDHEADS on this trip.
There were a couple of us that had a really good time together, and that I really enjoyed spending time with...Erin and Colleen. I called us the "Tres Pelirojas Locas"...although they were FAR crazier than me. But they had me in stitches every time we were together, and their good humor and witty jokes were infectious. So I wanted to thank them for making my trip all the more fun.
Thanks, girls...because of you, my memories are all the more golden.
Or should I say: Auburn, Strawberry, and Bronze?