Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Planning a Trip Upside Down: Seville’s Fair

The tip to La Feria de Abril in Seville, Spain, was planned upside down: first we got the return ticket, and then we searched for a way to get there.

After running around Madrid, going through several train and bus stations and different travel agencies, we finally found tickets to get to the Fair. Even though we hadn’t started out journey, our adventure had already began.

We had a hurried, stressful and reckless start. But once we got to Seville, the locals made sure to change everything around: their cheerful nature, and never ending hospitality, their dances, music and food, ensured we had a wonderful trip.

The Fair of Seville is different from all the other Fairs that take place in Spain. In Seville, the fair was first organized in 1847 to showcase the cattle, while the rest of the fairs in Spain were first organized to venerate a Saint or the city’s patron.

The original Fair of Seville had around 19 “casetas” displayed at Prado de San Sebastián, an area in the suburbs of the city, while today, the fair summons close to 1,000 “casetas” in the center of Seville.

Groups of friends, neighbors, work colleagues or large families get together to collect enough funds to be able to reserve a spot and a “caseta” at the Fair. The hostesses decorate the “caseta” as they please. Yet, the “farolillos”, flamenco music and laughter are a must in ever "caseta".

At the Fair, women did not have hands; their extremities were brushes that painted elaborated drawings in the air. Even though I looked at their hands thoroughly, I found it impossible to copy their movements.

In the past, whenever I heard flamenco, I only heard screams and lamenting voices. Yet at the Fair, the dancers’ smiles, the colorful flamenco dresses, and the energetic clapping that accompanied the synchronized dances transformed flamenco into vigorous and happy songs.

In this context, “sevillanas” and flamenco music took on a new meaning for me.

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