Thursday, May 16, 2013

La Feria de Jerez

¡Hola y'all!

So I've got a bit of catching up to do, blog-wise.  It's been a busy, test-filled couple of weeks since London, but lots of stuff worth blogging about has been happening.  Firstly, we have la Feria de Jerez.

For those of you unfamiliar with "Feria", I think the closest equivalent in the US would be a county fair, although that term definitely cheapens the event.  Feria consists of a collection of "casetas", which translates to "little house", which are basically temporary restaurant/bars with tables and dance floors.  In Jerez, entry into the casetas is free, unlike "la Feria de Abril" in Sevilla, where you typically need to have some kind of inside hook-up in order to go inside (you gotta know people.)  The casetas are set up in rows on a large lot, and people meander from one caseta to another, dancing, eating and sipping "rebujito", a mix of sherry and sprite.  Meanwhile, horse-drawn carriages pull paying customers around the fair--la Feria de Jerez is also often called la Feria del Caballo (Horse).

Photo by Anisa Jackson

On Wednesday, the fair's "Día de la mujer" (Women's Day), seven of us girls hopped on a bus with 35 other gaditana women, decked out in their flamenco dresses, complete with the iconic flower atop their heads.  About five minutes into the drive they all started singing songs and clapping and stomping along, including this one:

And this one: 

I've found that, generally speaking, the Spaniards have got serious rhythm.  I'm telling you, those flamenco clapping patterns are not simple, half an hour on the bus and I still felt like that kid in band that never could get on beat.

Photo by Merry Chris Sison

Once we arrived at Jerez, it was clear that these ladies would not be out of place, the vast majority of the ladies, whether young or old, were dressed up in their gitana garb.  I can't blame them, those dresses are flattering to every shape, talk about hugging your curves in all the right places.  Needless to say I really want a flamenco dress now.

We americanas split up from the rest of the ladies, who surely went to go dance the night away.  We drank a rebujito or two...

This gem captured by Krissa Johnson

Rode on the scariest ride there...

Photo by Anisa Jackson

Close-up of above. It was scary okay?

The "after" shot. Thanks Merry Chris for the photo.
Ate some churros con chocolate...

Photo by Merry Chris Sison

And saw the lights turn on when it got dark.  Pretty magical if you ask me, it definitely had a kind of Disneyland-vibe, but a lot less gimmicky.
Photo by Anisa Jackson

I'll admit that Feria was nothing like what I had expected.  Having been to Jerez once before for the espectáculo de caballos, I was just expecting a little rinky-dink kind of exhibition, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It felt very authentic, the people were all friendly, and it was clear that they took this very seriously.  One of my favorite parts was just standing outside the packed casetas and watching people dance la sevillana.
We were standing in line for the bathroom in one of the casetas and a man and woman nearby spontaneously started dancing together; they just exuded such pride and grace, and it was clear by the way they were grinning from ear to ear that they were having a ball.  The best part was that none of these people were professionals, they were just ordinary jerezanos that embraced their culture and tradition wholeheartedly.

Photo by Merry Chris Sison

So despite my uncertainty, la Feria de Jerez turned out to be one of my favorite experiences in Spain, I had a really enjoyable afternoon and evening there, I only wish we could have stayed and danced a little longer.

I also need to mention that the photos in this post are courtesy of my lovely program-mates, due to the fact that I decided to leave my camera at home for this little trip.  I realized that sometimes I get stuck behind the lens, and I just wanted to experience the moment without focusing on the documentation of every little thing.

Photo by Anisa Jackson

So here's to pleasant surprises and living in the moment!



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