Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ya se acabo

Saturday, February 22nd was the Chorizá in Ubrique. The Chorizá is perhaps one of the most popular and important festivities during the Ubrique Carnaval. It marks the official beginning of Carnaval, and the entire town gathers in the town square (below my house!) at 2:00 pm to listen to a government official (dressed in a costume in the true spirit of Carnaval) announce the festivities, to listen to the comparsas and chirigotas, and to...of course...drink and eat Chorizá (spanish sausage). After the opening ceremony/speech, the festivities continued up the narrow pedestrian streets of the Casco Antiguo (historic district of Ubrique), where whole-in-the-wall bars served a never ending supply of Cruzcampo (beer), and street bars provided Chorizá, and individual homeowners opened their residences to allow people to use the washrooms...for a small donation, of course. While everyone was eating and drinking, meandering from bar to bar, the various chirigotas and comparsas seranaded the people with their witty and catchy songs.

Once people got tired of the festivities outside in the Casco Antiguo (which is around 11:30 or midnight), they wandered down to Avenida España (the main "downtown" street in Ubrique) and hit the bars. The town comparsas and chirigotas continue to sing, the people continue to drink, and pass the night away with their friends and family. The streets and bars of Ubrique are packed, as this festival draws people from all the surrounding pueblos of Prado del Rey, El Bosque, Cortes, Grazalema, Benoacaz, etc. It truly is a Spanish experience that no one should miss.

While the Chorizá is quite amazing, I would have to argue that the last weekend of Carnaval is the best. On Saturday, February 28th, the entire town (well, most people) filled the bars along Avenida España to listen to the music of Carnaval and eat Paella (a typical andalucian dish). By night fall, people returned to their homes, and around 10:30 pm, once again lined Avenida España. This time...however, everyone was dressed in elaborate costumes and in big groups. My friends and I (and yup, I was the only real blonde...and the only non-Spaniard) dressed as Musketeers. Instead of 3, however, there were 22. Everyone who dressed up then participated in the town parade, and paraded through the streets until they reached the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (town square...where I live). Once there, the botellón (drinking party) started...and didn´t finish until 8 in the morning. A band played all through the night, friends mingled, and drinks were either consumed or spilled. Overall, its one big costume party - probably one of the biggest you´ll ever see, and the longest lasting! These Spaniards truly know how to live it up and have fun. No one can argue with that.

On Sunday, March 1st, the last day of Carnaval, there was one last parade...that of the Patacabra (a tool used for working with leather, and a symbol of Ubrique). As it made its way from the Casco Antiguo to the end of town, the townspeople lined the streets and followed it, dancing and singing, all the way to the Plaza de las Palmeras. Once there, everyone filled the Plaza, and watched an impressive fireworks display. At the conclusion of the fireworks, the Patacabra (float) was set on fire to declare the end of Carnaval. Some people threw their costumes onto the burning Patacabra, and others just watched solemnly as it was engulfed in flames, then filed out of the Plaza to return home and prepare for Carnaval 2010. :) With any luck, I will be here again, too. Heck, you´ve gotta live life while you´re young, right?!

Y así se acababa.

And so it finished.

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