Living in Spain has been super interesting for me. Not only is there a bunch cool things to see, do, and eat, they've always got a festival or holiday or something going on to celebrate something or other. I think that it must be in the Spanish constitution that there will be a holiday every week of the year -- or at least it feels that way. (Don't get me started on "puentes!") On the off weeks (all two or three of them) when there's no national holiday, Barcelona does its festive part by holding individual neighborhood parties. I wrote about the Diada de Gracia (Gracia Day) festival, which is one of the last neighborhood festivals each year, back in November when I got to watch castellers (kass-tay-yair) for the first time.
Well, new year, new series of neighborhood festivals. One of the first "Diadas" each year is the Diada Sant Antoni, which takes place in mid-January in the next neighborhood over from where I live. The various neighborhood festivals are usually weekend-long events that involve various street fairs, music events, and parades that celebrate the local area. What was different this time was that I was a part of the parade AS A CASTELLER!
The parade groups took shape in a small park near the Sant Antoni market. Of course no self-respecting Spanish parade would be without the world-famous "gigantes" (giants):
In general, the "gigantes" (giant characters) confuse me. I have to be honest. I still don't understand what they're all about. I might need to check with my local-expert-in-all-things-Catalan Pau. Anyway, this giant has sausages hanging around its neck. I don't know what it means but I do like sausage so I like this one:
The following group was made up of young folks with flames on their pants and devil-like T-shirts. What I liked most is that they brought with them a huge pig that shot liquid out its nipples, which is pretty unusual, right? Well, for the first 15 minutes after they arrived, all I could think about is where they store that damn pig. I don't know anyone here with an apartment big enough to store a giant rolling pig with water-shooting nipples. My only guess is that one of these folks actually has a job and at that job they actually have space to store a giant wet-nippled rolling pig.
Just before the parade started, the casteller group "suited" up. The Castellers del Poble Sec wear blue shirts with the logo of the group, white pants, and a long fabric back support called a "faixa" (fie-sha). Getting the faixa fitted is a two-person operation. In this photo, I'm helping Dan who's one of the leaders of the group with his faixa (Yes, I know, I need to buy some white pants. Have you ever tried to find white pants in January?):
The parade was kicked off by the Trabucs de Sant Antoni, which is a local group of folks who have funny costumes, silly hats, and big guns with huge tips that produce a very loud bang when fired. I'm guessing that guns are used to "protect" against anyone who'd make fun of their outfits... The guy on the right was part of the Trabucs while the guy on the left looks like a Caganer with his pants pulled up:
The parade wound it's way around the neighborhood for an hour or so. We stopped about five times to build castles of varying configurations. In this photo, you can see me on the right under the girl who's on her way up to the top:
Did I mention how much of a kick I get out of the castellers? Now if I could just speak some Catalan so I can understand what the hell they're saying! :-)
Diana took this video of us building one of the structures:
And finally, this is a group shot at the end of the parade. What a happy bunch:
I've never been involved in a group that's done parades before. The closest I've ever been is during my super-model career a bunch of years ago when I'd walk the catwalk. Diana says (as she rolls her eyes) that being a part of the castellers ensures that "we'll never miss another neighborhood festival". Oh well, no me importa! I'm ready for every single event that Spain can throw at me! Bring it on!