Carnaval Festivities

Wasn’t Carnaval two weeks ago, you ask?

Yes, it was…but sadly I am a failure at blog posting these days. Here’s a little recap of the weekend:

After much time looking up ways to make my Indian costume by hand, I gave up the idea out of pure laziness…I just didn’t want to put the necessary amount of effort into it, nor did I want to spend the money for the suede fabric, which was quite expensive! Thus I became a black cat very simply with my own clothing, a purchased tail, and homemade ears…a touch of black makeup and I was set. Truth be told, the costume was pretty pathetic, especially by Spain’s Carnaval standards! But oh well.

Carnaval at ies Pobra:

On Friday at school, the last three classes were cancelled for the big celebration. The covered patio was set up with a runway for the costume contest, a separate stage for the always present and always terrible band of a few ragtag boys, plenty of decorations, and a bake sale to raise money for a trip to Paris. I was asked to be a judge in the costume contest and I quite enjoyed myself. The students truly went all out and we had everything from old women (actually boys), Madagascar characters, citizens protesting the crisis, Harry Potter, Dragon Ball Z, Pac Man and his ghosts, a famous soccer player and his girlfriend Shakira (both boys), and a group of cross dressing boys. Needless to say, the men here LOVE taking advantage of Carnaval to dress like a girl. It was hysterical, yet also a bit uncomfortable at times. haha

The costume contest was more than just modeling…several of the groups put together actual routines to go along with their chosen song. I was impressed! Others, however, simply danced around like idiots….including the three boys dressed as firefighters who ended up stripping off part of their uniforms. (The funny thing is, not one administrator said a word!) Afterward, a group of boys from my 1 BAC class (kind of like juniors in high school) played a bunch of their band’s music….much screaming, rock, and all in all…a headache. I feel like an old woman saying that, but I guess it just goes to show how my interests have changed since high school!

Two of the most popular treats of Carnaval that I sampled several times are “orejas”, which literally means “ears” but are basically fried dough that is supposed to be in the shape of a pig’s ear and sprinkled with sugar. Also popular are the “fiollas”, which were extremely thin crepes more or less, though a bit sweeter. If I’m being honest, neither were that special. I miss all the chocolatey desserts that are so popular in the US! (and not so popular with my waistline)  Another aspect of Carnaval is the “cocido”…for this festival, it’s a big meal that consists of every pig part possible. Apparently the teachers were going to have one, but either I missed it or they changed their mind…I’m quite okay with passing on some of the more undesirable pig parts anyways.

Carnaval in Verín:

 On Saturday, a trio of us made the multiple part trip to Ourense, another region (and city) of Galicia. We luckily got the last hotel in Ourense, though we did NOT realize that it was out in the middle of nowhere. We literally passed out of the Ourense city limits, into another town, out of that town, and into a third town before reaching the area where our hotel was. We were the last ones on the city bus as the driver kept going and going and going….while we panicked a bit. Turns out it was a 4 star, swanky hotel that we got for dirt cheap (and put 3 people into a double) and part of the Camino (the pilgrimage to Santiago).  That night we wandered around the old town in the city taking in the atmosphere, getting drinks and tapas, watching the children and oftentimes parents in costume running wild.

Sunday, we headed off on a bus to Verín, a small village in the middle of the region known for its traditional celebration of Carnaval. (Disclaimer: Carnaval is celebrated differently in every single region and even from city to city…I was simply recommended Verín because it goes all out in comparison to many other places!) Upon arriving, we caught the last part of an amazing parade with floats that had to have taken weeks to make (and in one case, months! It had a real fire, real chickens, meat cooking over the fire, and more). Also…you will notice in many of my photos on Facebook that there are the people dressed in white, elaborate costumes with several cow bells hanging from the back of their belts. They run up and down the streets wielding sticks with leather strips attached to them, hitting anybody not in costume, in the way of the parade, or simply because they felt like it. Okay okay, I may have provoked some of them by beginning to run after them as they went by. This generally resulted in me being hit, but it didn’t really hurt.

People were covering the streets for the entire day (minus the long Spanish lunch hour)…it was beautiful weather, there were no open container laws J, there were fair-type of rides and attractions, food, and great fun.  In the evening, two concerts were put on with typical styles of music and at one point, there was a slower, clearly popular song to which all the couples were dancing. I took so many pictures and videos of old couples dancing and looking adorable that they probably thought I was a creep. I only put about half of my photos on facebook so as to not appear weird. ha!

Before returning to Pobra on Monday, we visited the thermal springs in Ourense. They are natural hot springs literally in the river, though we paid the 5 euros for the nice ones and spent several hours relaxing. They had all sorts of different pools at various temperatures and some had special jets or purposes. For example, there was one with some waterfalls that you’re supposed to position yourself beneath and allow the waterfall to massage your lumbar. It felt incredible. And again, we were blessed with an absolutely beautiful day!

Hiking!

A couple times in the past two weeks, I also have gone hiking up the mountain with a few other people. It’s been wonderful to explore more of the wild beauty of Galicia, while we cross rivers, climb straight up the side of a mountain rather than following paths, looking out over the bay with all the mussel farms from the top, getting close to the wild horses and cows that graze, and picnicking at the top near the windmills. I hope to go many more times depending on the weather over the next few months.

In other news:

 Actually not too much to share…I’ve been staying busy with all my extra private classes, school classes, gymming, hanging out with the other auxiliars and teachers, and planning my eurotrip with my grandmother after my time here!  Also, next weekend I am off to Germany! Another girl and I found a roundtrip RyanAir flight for only $44…can you believe that!!!! That’s much cheaper than even a pair of jeans. Needless to say, I couldn’t pass it up and it is my early birthday present to myself. J  We fly into Frankfurt, but as I’ve been told it’s nothing special and far too industrial, I’m planning to visit Heidelburg and the small villages along the Rhine River, including the Lorelei Rock, the many fortresses/castles, and get some hiking in! I’m excited, though I need to be practicing my German this week for sure. (in between all the extra make-up classes I have for missing a couple days of school. Meh.)

I will do my best to update again after the Germany trip.