I arrived back into Sevilla on Wednesday morning, so exhausted from a night spent in the airport that I couldn't even feel. As we rode the bus into the city, an advertisement flashed onto the television screens, with the cheery message, "Ya es la primavera!"(It's spring!) and an image of a woman and a man astride a horse.
"I'm too tired to feel anything," I told my friends. "But after I sleep, I'm going to be really excited."
So I slept for four hours, hopped out of bed and was about to charge out the door to buy my accessories when my host mom stopped me.
"Today is a holiday," she explained. "All the stores are closed."
The problem was that I couldn't wear my flamenco dress without--at least--a flower. It just isn't done. I already look enough like a guiri (a foreigner) with my blue eyes, blonde-ish hair, and general face shape. At that point, I didn't have anything, no shawl (called a "mantocillo"), flower, or pendants.
I had resigned myself to wearing just a normal dress, when my host mom suddenly exclaimed that she had accessories in her closet. She opened up a drawer and pried open a rusty box.
"I haven't opened this for ten years!" She laughed.
Inside, lay a purple flower, earrings, necklace and combs, which looked perfect with my bright yellow dress. She helped me tie my hair up into a bun and affix the combs and flower onto my head, the smile on her face recalling old times of staying out late, eating and dancing the night away.
After I was deemed Feria-ready, Nicole and I headed out to the fairgrounds, which lay about a twenty minute walk away on the other side of the river. About ten minutes in, after the sweat began to collect oh-so-beautifully on our faces, we found a lady selling fans near the Parque María Luisa.
"Shannon," Nicole said. "You're going to want to buy a fan."
"Nicole," I told her confidently. "I don't have my own flower yet. The fan I buy might not go with my new accessories." (This is also important. Coordination is key.)
"Trust me," she assured. "The Feria is boiling."
I found a yellow fan that was pretty cheap, so I went ahead and bought it. Probably one of the best investments of my life. By the end of the week, I was convinced that there was just a giant aluminum funnel that channeled all heat and sunlight onto the Feria, making it about ten degrees hotter than everywhere else. Besides just relief, a fan is also a great way to make friends. You see someone desperately waving a pathetic napkin at themselves? Offer your fan, with a smile. Instant friendship.
After our fan purchase, we crossed into a fairytale.
"I think I'm going to cry," I said to Nicole as we walked across the river. It was magical. The fairgrounds in Los Remedios is lined with rows and rows of tents, called casetas. These range from tiny to ridiculously huge, each one similar in appearance, but unique in interior design. Some are lined with lace, others covered in lanterns, some have pictures and others plaques. Within each caseta, there is a space with chairs and tables for dancing, eating, socializing, and of course, drinking. Usually behind this area there is a large kitchen, where workers tirelessly shuffle back and forth, cooking up tortillas, fried fish, pinchitos (delicious grilled chicken shishkebabs), and mixing the ever important rebujito. I was warned about this before, but I didn't quite understand it until I tasted it. Rebujito is made from some type of sherry called "manzanilla" and Sprite swirled into a dangerously refreshing drink. Warning: this is not water. You probably shouldn't treat it like water.
Here's a great example: Yo soy del Sur
|A coach in front of the enormous portada|
|Oi! Mi corazón!|
Once you make it past the parading horses, you walk into Calle de Infierno (Hell's Street), which looks like your typical carnival except 10x more intense. We're not talking about your average carousel and Ferris wheel, people. Two giant wheels, legitimate roller coasters, log flumes, live-pony carousels, bumper cars, arcades, scramblers, a circus...that's right. There's even a circus! Around the edges of the Calle are tons of churro stands--but these aren't frequented until 5 in the morning!
|Waiting in line for Super Kangaroo|
The Calle is pretty overwhelming, with music blaring at you from every angle and little kids running around like little monsters. And you can forget about changing--everyone wears their dresses on the rides! Although, make sure to secure any loose adornments, or they will join the graveyard of combs and clips that lay at the bottom of every ride.
We all got dragged onto a ride called "Top Gun," which flips you upside down multiple times and then sprays water on your face. Besides being ridiculously terrifying, it really offered a great view of the Feria. After that, I picked out the next ride I wanted to try out: Super Kangaroo. This is like a mega-scramber, except that it violently bounces you up and down. When I told my friend that was the one I wanted to ride, he shook his head disapprovingly.
"That's a soft ride. You like soft rides."
Whatever--Super Kangaroo provided some of the best four minutes of my life.
After two rides, however, we were done. The rides are diverse and awesome, but they can set you back quite a few euros.
Feria during the day is brilliant, but Feria during the night is wildly romantic. The streets are strung with lanterns that softly glow above you and the Calle de Infierno beckons with its neon lights that pulsate into the dark sky.
(Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this. I was enjoying myself too much to take photos.)
|Me and Gabbie, my partner-in-crime on the dance floor.|
I know some day I'll return...there are more sevillanas to be danced!