How fortunate to have met some wonderful people and to celebrate this old fart’s birthday with them! I am in Valladolid for 4 days, days which fortunately coincide with an important regional festival and also a village festival. I had the opportunity to attend in both with these friends.
In 1515 there was a battle near Valladolid between the monarchy and local rebels who were asserting their ancient rights and demand for more local autonomy. The rebels lost but the anniversary has been transformed into a national holiday for Castille y León where liberty and local autonomy are affirmed and the many issues arising out of the years of extreme austerity and ensuing hardship for the working class and youth are at centre stage. We are in the village of Villalar and the day consists of a series of processions to the main square with music and singing. Key participants are the various working class parties.
Another is awaiting their turn. Always with music and with a well-known song which relates the story of the battle and its meaning through the centuries.
The Spanish have been much more willing to take to the streets, to protest government action and inaction. I have a sense that the ordinary Spaniard has a greater sense of history, a collective memory of the many centuries of the one per cent of the one per cent enjoying most of the benefits of their country. There is political graffiti here as there is on many walls across this country.
The seeds of hope still spring forth. The comuneral rebellion still springs forth. Passion.
The comuneros were the original rebels. The final single word has an interesting connotation – something like the inflaming tinder. It is the responsibility of youth to question, to rebel, to find a better way for all.
There are also other kinds of music and dancing.
Here is a group from another village and among their musicians is a bagpiper – he plays a gaita – Spain was settled for centuries by the Celts before the arrival of the Romans. Sorry but I messed up photographing the piper. You can see his pipes behind the three young girls in black.
A market place with bread, cheese and enormous pans of paella.
They are cooking eggs in the other pan. And finally I introduce you all to my friend, Montse. Quite the ball of energy!
And now for day two of my celebrations. The day itself, the 25th, there is a village festival south of Valladolid, so off goes the whole family, Montse, her sons Diego and Martín and Antonio, her novio, my friend from the little Visigothic church who had given me the opportunity to be the guide at this church the previous week. Post #38
We are drinking local artisanal beers. I assure you that I have barely tasted mine, regardless of what my droopy eyes say. Here is the brewmaster.
This kind of brewing is gradually catching on in Spain. Thank heavens! Unfortunately the weather did not co-operate and there were very few buyers in the streets to take advantage of the wares on sale in the various stalls. Most headed indoors to eat. We spent a couple of hours in a very large and very busy restaurant eating plate after plate of tapas – platters of calamari and a lamb cooked in the traditional local manner – in small pieces on a sword. Long Saturday and Sunday lunches with the whole family, including the teenagers, is definitely a tradition in this country,
The server would show up at your table, sometimes with three swords at a time, and simply use a knife to push the lamb off onto your plates. Succulent! Like lamb usually is, right?
The highlight of the late afternoon was a variation of the running of the bulls. I referred to the famous festival of San Fermín in Pamplona in my eating post. Most of us have probably seen some of this on TV. Here through the village streets we had the young, old and foolish being chased by a couple of bulls. Antonio assured me that later they would bring out the older, more aggressive toros but the lad was tiring and waiting around for a possibility can be very tiring.
¡Amistades! Friendships! A special way to let Spain sink in!
Muchas gracias a Montse, Antonio, Diego y Martín, amigos amabilísimos! Hasta luego!