It's been a busy 24 hours. I partied with my wonderful friends Albert and Lola until the wee hours (for me) of the morning. I finally left them at 2:00 a.m. for my half-hour walk home. I was in bed by 3, asleep by 4, and up at 8:30 to get ready for our "inspection." Someone from the cat rescue shelter was scheduled to come by to check us out. It's been as rigorous as adopting a child. They now know more about us than even I normally care to share. But we were pleasantly surprised when they brought along the two cats we're planning to adopt. Although the two cats were pretty much overwhelmed by this major adventure (they're nearly a year old and have only ever known the street and the shelter), it was love at first sight. We have been approved. They all went back to the shelter and Jerry and I immediately went out and bought everything the two newest members of our family will need to move in. The only hold-up now is the fact that this week is Feria, which includes official holidays for many people. Once the veterinarian does the final check-up and paperwork (they're in perfect health, are neutered, have had all their shots, and they're already micro-chipped), these two brothers will be ours. We are elated.
|THIS YEAR'S PORTADA (MAIN GATE).|
I had a beautiful half-hour walk to the Feria last night, arriving around 9:45. The city around us is relatively quiet this week. We see women dressed in traditional Flamenco everywhere, but they are all on their way to or from the fair. Just about everyone is in Los Remedios, the neighborhood that is home to the immense fairgrounds. The closer I got the more dense were the crowds and the more electric the atmosphere.
|OUTSIDE THE CASETA AT 11:00 P.M.|
The portada (the front entrance to the fair) is a 50-meter-high, brilliantly lit arch that has a different theme every year. This year's portada design is based on the facade of the Church of El Salvador. The fairgrounds are covered with albero, which is yellow sand typical of Southern Spain (and also used in the bull rings and parks). Its color is the symbol of Sevilla. The golden glow is charming but the dust gets into everything and it turns to mud when it rains. Fortunately, it hasn't rained yet this week but my freshly polished black shoes are covered with a layer of gold dust.
|THE FRONT ROOM OF THE CASETA, OPEN TO THE OUTSIDE.|
|IN THE FRONT ROOM, SITTING OUT ONE DANCE.|
The caseta that Albert and Lola always join is extremely popular, ornately decorated, and has the best musicians performing day and night. I think six different musical groups rotate through this particular caseta every day. It was hot and mobbed when I arrived. Albert and Lola were standing right near the entrance to the front room to take in the fresh air and escape the extremely hot and crowded main room. After about an hour we headed inside. The room has narrow benches along its length. There's a small band platform and at the very back is the bar. I never got as far as the bar. I was waited on all night either by an actual waiter (these guys maneuvered through the crowd with trays of food and drinks as if they were magicians) or by Albert and Lola. There are white paper lanterns overhead, called farolillo. They decorate the entire fair and are sometimes also in red or green.
|A CONTEMPORARY TWIST.|
I was very surprised when I arrived to find Lola wearing an elegant little cocktail dress as opposed to a traditional flamenco dress. She said it's always so hot, dusty, and crowded that she prefers to dress more simply for Feria. I asked her if she had more than one flamenco dress at home and she said, "Yes... Twenty." She said for the annual pilgrimage to Rocio (coming up in May), she changes her outfit three times a day.
|INCREDIBLE PERFORMERS. THEY PUT THEIR HEARTS INTO THEIR MUSIC.|
|THE MAN AT CENTER, I WAS TOLD, IS A VERY FAMOUS SPANISH FLAMENCO DANCER.|
(I DON'T KNOW HIS NAME.)
What an amazing night. I am so grateful to Albert for inviting me. He and Lola have each made me feel at home here in Sevilla. As always, I'm grateful for these very gracious, generous, and fun friends. Albert scolds me every time I say "thank you." He says it's not necessary because that's what friends do. He reads my blog religiously (and I'm grateful to him for that, as well). So, I'm going to thank him and Lola here ... and he can't stop me!
|HANDSOME ALBERT HATES TO HAVE HIS PICTURE TAKEN.|
THIS IS WHAT HE WOULD ALLOW. (CLASSY POCKET SQUARE.)
|THAT'S ME (IN THE TIE) WITH LOLA, 1:45 A.M.|