So last Saturday was my 23rd birthday-wahoo mid-twenties here I come! This was actually my second birthday I would celebrate in Spain; I turned 20 in Salamanca, which I thought would be hard to top in terms of awesome bdays, but man was I wrong! This year DEFINITELY takes the cake for the best birthday ever, and it had to do with the fact that the 14th was also romería in Espejo, the pueblo where I work.
Now romería means making small pilgrimage in honor of the patron saint of the town, and it’s mostly celebrated in Andalucía. The romería in Espejo was for San Isidro, the patron saint of the worker (olive farmers). It basically consists of people going out to the countryside for the day and eating and drinking ton. What is really cool is that lots of people dress up in traditional gypsy or olive worker costumes and ride out on horseback or in big wagons pulled by tractors. These wagons (carrozas) are big open truck beds normally used to transport olives, but for romería people decorate them for a competition and ride in them out into the countryside, usually with a roof of tarp to give some shade. Ours was pretty simple: a bench, a big table, speakers blasting house and flamenco music, a giant cooler filled with booze, and a stove hooked up to a gas tank to cook chorizo and sardines. Amen.
My favorite carroza of the day, with boys dressed up as the crazy Duquesa de Alba. What is with crossdressing in Spain?!?!
My incredible friend Cristina invited me to spend the weekend with her and her family. All the carrozas left from the main square in Espejo flanked by tons of people walking or on horseback. We headed out to the campo in a long parade around 10am, which coincidentally is when the booze started flowing. It was also about 90 degrees. I was dying!
It took a few hours before we finally got out to the big camp ground/park area where everyone would spend the day. There were picnic tables everywhere and people had already come out and set up tons of food to prepare for a long day of fiesta. Kids were running around with water guns, girls dancing sevillanas in their gypsy dresses, drunk old men hitting on everyone, people on horseback riding around, and people passed out under the olive trees. It was so much fun and absolute chaos!
Me and Cristina
It was one giant party, and it was really great because all of the teachers and my students were there, so they kept running up to me all day wishing me happy birthday and wanting to introduce me to their families. So adorable! Only in Spain are you allowed to walk around with a drink in one hand meeting your students’ parents. In fact if my hand was empty, they would immediately give me another rebujito and some food! I love it! I ran into one of the teachers later on and she had her horses with her and insisted I go for a ride. I told her that I’ve only ever been on a horse twice in my life, once for pony pictures when I was in 3rd grade and once in Salamanca on a riding excursion, but she wasn’t fazed. So I hobbled up on a big horse, one hand on the rains, the other holding a beer given to me by one of the men, and off we went!
We walked among the olive trees for a while before coming up to a rural house (a lot of people have second small houses in the countryside). We parked the horses and went inside and hung out with another group of teachers, parents, and kids before heading back to the campsite. (This is where my memory starts to get fuzzy) later in the afternoon our group started to make a giant paella rice (arroz) in one of the big frying pans, which is a very traditional thing to do when in the campo. I just watched haha. It was delicious and we all just ate it straight out of the pan. It finally got cooler as the sun set, which is when the party really began. They turned the big pavilion into a discoteca where we danced for hours! I was a grandma and had my forehead on the picnic table almost asleep by the time 3am rolled around (if you know Spain, this is early), but after 15 hours of straight partying, I was done, and I mean done! But man, what a day! Best. Birthday. Ever.