Here it is my friends, the last of summer. As I am sitting here writing this, summer is slowly getting away from us…it’s one of those rare rainy and icky days in Malaga. QUE TRISTE! Anyways, I’m just going to try to soak the last bit of sun while writing about my month of August.
Like I mentioned in my last post, August brings vacation time for a lot of Spaniards. For me it was two more weeks of classes, and then I was free! Free to celebrate the feria, or fair, of Malaga! Now up until this point I had only been to the feria in Sevilla, and only for 45 minutes because we didn’t know anyone who had a private casita. Malaga’s feria is the opposite, there are no private casitas, and there are two spots to party: the city-center AND the feria real. Which always means double the party. HA, I wish. It just meant that literally everywhere in Malaga was crazy crowded.
The first weekend of feria, Cris had some of his friends come visit. It was “opening weekend,” so we knew things would get crazy…however we really didn’t understand. Friday night was when feria “opened,” so pretty much anywhere that had a view of the fireworks was packed.
The next day we all made sure to get enough sleep so we could brave the city-center for lunch. It was crazy. Calle Larios, the main shopping street was pack with venders of random feria things, people botellon-ing -drinking in the street publicly (remember there are no rules during feria), and the restaurants and cafes little casitas. There were people dancing (click to see a video) in the middle of the street, it was a little over-whelming, but also so exciting at the same time.
Once we got to Plaza de Constitucíon, we finally understood what this week was going to be like: No rules, complete chaos. In the center of the plaza was a huge casita, and next to it one of the cafes had their own casita fully equipped with two bars and live music. Basically we just spent the afternoon going from bar to bar, enjoying the tapas and the drink deals.
Later, once we had a our fill of fun, we came back to relax and prepare ourselves for parte dos de feria: feria real. Yes, there are two parts to feria here. The second part is outside the city center, and is more of what we consider a fair. It has the rides, food stands, and of course the casitas. Now here in Malaga it’s many bars and restaurants that have casitas, so basically its just an outdoor club.
Luckily for us, we live pretty close to the feria real. However, no Spaniard goes there until midnight or even 2 in the morning! Again, remember there are no rules during feria and many people are on vacation. So no pasa nada! Basically every one dances (again click the link for a little glimpse) the night away and enjoys the different bars. I have to say my favorite memory was spending time with my girlfriends and we literally walked in to a giant dance party with a band singing a song about Cartojal, the wine spritzer drink of feria. Click here to see the video, and look below to see that the band was not in the street, no, they were hanging out of a bar window.
The week of feria pretty much continued the same. Many of my friends from last year were returning back from their summers at home, so it just more reason to celebrate!
Then as quick as it started, fería ended and it was time for us to head over to the US! It was Cris’ first time in America, so you know it had to be perfect and very American.
When we arrived my parents asked Cris what were the three things he wanted to do. His response was: 1. Drive an American truck, 2. Watch a baseball game, and 3. Cut the grass with a real mower. I have to admit, those were very much doable.
We easily crossed off Cris’ to-do list, we still had a full list of activities. The last weeks of August and the beginning of September are, in my opinion, the best time of summer. We had the chance to go to a Twins game, spend the day in Mall of America, go paddle boarding on Lake Waconia, and even time for a day of breweries. More importantly, he got to try the food from the family restaurant, Culver’s. There was also time for Cris to see what my daily life is like, meeting my friends, seeing the places around Waconia and Minneapolis. We also had time to hop over to Chicago!
While in Chicago we literally were on the go for the full three days. We made a stop in the Sears Tower, yes I know it’s now the Willis Tower, but for me it will always be the Sears Tower. It was my first time going to the tower as well! I have to admit the scariest part was the elevator going up and down. The building is so tall that the elevator doesn’t count the floors 1, 2, 3…its more like 4, 8, 12. Oh, and the elevator was so fast going up…my ears popped! The views were surprisingly really nice, we could see a lot from the top. We were told that on a really nice day you can see all the way across Lake Michigan!
I’m also really lucky to have family and friends who live in the city so we got to try some new (new to me) restaurants! All of them were soooo good! It was also so great to catch up with some great people!
We also made time to go to my favorite museum, The Field Museum located in the Museum Campus. We literally got there when they opened, and we left at 3 PM, and we still didn’t see everything! We also made a stop at the art museum on Michigan Ave, where again we managed to spend 5 hours walking around. Now, one thing I forgot about America is that the museums cost money…so how did we manage to go to all of these places without spending the big bucks? We did a combination ticket that we bought when we were at Willis Tower. I highly suggest taking advantage of this to save more money for all the delicious food you will eat.
After Chicago, things got even crazier! My Spanish friend, Cristina, came to MN for the weekend. She is currently teaching Spanish in St. Louis. Even though she has been in the U.S. since August, I still had to impress her as well. So of course that meant a day of breweries! We participated in the Rails and Ales that an amazing local company, named Get Knit Events, puts on in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They team up with local microbreweries and create a day of fun, beer, food, and music. It was so much fun! The next day was Cris’ birthday, so that called for another celebratory brunch at a local restaurant, The Local.
During these two weeks is also the Great Minnesota Get Together, or the Minnesota State Fair. Now, I may be biased but I believe Minnesota has THE best fair. Our fair is known for crazy food combinations that are always on a stick. Literally ANYTHING on a stick. Fried candy bars on a stick? YES. Deep-fried apple pies on a stick? OH YES. Here is a link to the food for this past year, and just let your mouth water.
At this point in the trip I realized that I really enjoyed sharing my stomping grounds with Cris and Cristina. However, what I loved more was seeing their reaction to everything. Especially, while we were at the State Fair. Only because we have some weird traditions, such as, the Dairy Princesses who are elected and then have a butter head made for them. Yes, a huge block of butter, and a sculptor carves their face into it. Who wouldn’t want that?
Then as quick as we arrived to Minnesota, we were on our way back to Malaga. But our vacation was not just quite finished. After a few days attempting to recuperate in Malaga, we headed to Cris’ hometown Dalías, Almería. During the second week of September is their fería. Yes, I said it. ANOTHER FERÍA. Now, this feria is very different from Malaga’s fería…very, very, very different. Remember how I said there were no rules during fería? Well, in an even smaller pueblo like Dalías, it is literally a free-for-all during this time. Also, the celebration is surrounding by the town’s santo, or saint: la cristo de la luz, or the Christ of the Light. It gets better, every night of the fería there are town dances, very similar to the baile primavera, at the town’s casino. I have to say for about a week straight, it was sleep all day and party ALL night until 8-9 in the morning. UFF!
Now the fería began with the Women’s Association luncheon where all the ladies of Dalías bring a food to share. I went with Cris’ mom and made some good of chocolate chunk cheesecake brownies to blow the minds of these ladies. AND THEY DID. I also became a socialite and MET THE MAYOR OF THE TOWN. Of course I had no idea who it was, and when he kept pronouncing my name wrong I told him “Es Amy como Amy Winehouse,” “It’s Amy, like Amy Winehouse.” I know I made a great impression on him.
Remember how I said that there were even less rules during fería in this town. Here is a perfect example: the first afternoon of fería there was a foam party in the town square. It wasn’t just in the town square, it was EVERYWHERE in the city. Every afternoon there was some crazy activity. The next day it was a motorcycle race. Not just any normal race. This race included having to maneuver around cones, eat a pastry, smoke a cigarette to pop a balloon, and then take shots, and repeat it again. Like I said, NO RULES DURING FERÍA! It gets even crazier, every afternoon there are tracas, which I cannot even begin to translate into English, but are for the kids. It is a string of firecrackers that are holding prizes. They hang the string up, the kids stand underneath it (again, there are fireworks on said string), and then they set off the fireworks to release the prizes! Those weren’t the only fireworks, each night there was a fireworks show and then a huge firework, which in Spanish is bomba, that scare the living daylights out of me. Each night these shows got bigger and bigger, all leading up to Sunday night. Which I will explain more a little later (hahaha, you have to continue reading!).
Once you thought it couldn’t get more crazy, there is a running of the bulls. Now, before you think that I even attempted to participate in this, it isn’t a real running with the bulls. The bulls are wooden and attached to the bulls are big fireworks, or cohetes. A brave soul then pushes said bull, laden with fireworks, all around the town square and people run after it. It’s only tradition that Cris runs in this with all his guy friends after we have all properly botellon-ed, or pregamed in public. The ending? Click here to see a video that his friend took while running around…also Cris totally got burned in his armpit, such a brave man, hahaha.
There are many more traditions during this week. It’s very common that people from the surrounding pueblos will make a pilgrimage to come visit the cristo during the week. If you are serious about this, you do this walk every day during fería. The walk, if down there and back, is about 18 km or about 11ish miles. We cheated and just did the way up (we hitched a ride down the mountain).
Unlike the fería in Sevilla, there is only one afternoon that everyone puts on the traditional Spanish flamenco dress, only for the carrozas. There is a little parade where everyone is on themed trailers and pass throughout the whole town. There even minions there!
The second biggest part of the fería are the bailes each night. The town’s casino holds a dance that you have to either have to have a casino card or pay for a ticket. Remember how I said that during the last dance it was quite formal? Well, these dances are even more formal, like all the guys have to wear full suits. What happens at these dances? There is a formal dinner, but we just went for the dances. Which means we arrived there at 2-3 IN THE MORNING! When did we leave? around 7-8 in the morning. We literally danced until the sun came up. We would then continue the party by stopping and getting churros and cola caos, hot chocolate. Then around 9-10 we would pass out, and sleep until 4 PM, eat lunch and get ready to party again until sun up. Saturday we didn’t go to the dance, but instead went to the biggest botellon in history. It was HUGE, there had to be at least 600 people there. So by Sunday, I was dead, literally dead.
Then Sunday arrived, the day that the Christ is taken out for his procession. The morning started with a special mass in the Church, where the Christ was taken off his little stage and put on his trono, or platform, for the procession later on in the day. Now, this procession is a little different. It isn’t the brotherhood, or hermandad, that carries the trono throughout the town. People get there super early to tie their bandana, or pañuelo, onto the trono, and if there is still room they get the honor to carry the Christ during the procession. Back to the special service, during this service there is NO ROOM for anything. People come from all over to be at this service. The priest says a special prayer for the Christ, and we watch the Christ be lowered on to his trono. After He is successfully positioned there, everyone sings a song about Dalías, and I mean everyone knows the song. Click here for a video of the song. During this whole service, people are yelling out “viva el cristo de la luz!” (Live the Christ of the light!) to which the crowd answers back, “Viva!” (Live!). You can watch it here.
Later that evening, we all return again, but this time it’s to watch the Christ be turned (click here for a video), and then taken out of the church. Again, the Church is packed, people are yelling “Viva el cristo de la luz!“, and the men are waiting to take their place under the trono. We were standing in the middle aisle of the church, and I thought nothing of it. Oh man was I wrong. We were the first to exit the church, before the Christ, BUTTTTT we had to walk backwards. Then when the Christ is on the outside steps of the church, there is a HUGE fireworks show. Then they brought out the big guns. I mentioned earlier about bombas, or huge a** fireworks that were set off after the fireworks show? Well instead of one, they had to section of them set up in the square. One section for when the Christ left the church, and one for when he returned. Now these are normal 4th of July fireworks. These are bottle rockets set off to feel the heat and feel the reverberations on your body. I’m not going to try to explain it, just click here for a Youtube video I found. Anyways, so after having my ear drums obliterated, the procession continues around the town.
Just like this fería, the procession isn’t like a normal procession either. In each neighborhood of the town, there are individual groups of fireworks that the people of Dalías bought. So this procession turned out to be pretty long because every 20 minutes they stopped to watch these. And the people carrying the Christ DON’T put him down! That is almost 5 hours! There were also some neighborhoods that have traditions. This neighborhood sings songs to the Christ and then throws flowers on to him (click here to see it). Another tradition of the town is to but candles and walk the procession route dropping wax to accompany the Christ during the procession. Once the procession finished, the Christ returns to the Church, the second set of bombas are set off, Christ is put back on His stage, and people then can wait to kiss the trono. Then, it is time for the last baile, where people can finish the fería in style.
After a month of what seemed like never ending adventure, my summer came to an end. I have quickly started my private classes once again, and Cris went back to work. Summer at first was very stressful and high anxiety at first, but by the end of it I don’t think I would change anything (well, I could have had more time at the beach, ha). Now, as I’m getting back into the swing of things, I keep finding myself dreaming of the beach and the care-free summer days. But alas, I have new adventures awaiting me this year! Until then –hasta luego!
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.” -Dr. Seuss