Nov 5, 2009

Quintanar de la Sierra: photo essay and beyond

I spent last weekend in Quintanar de la Sierra, which is a town located north of Madrid, in the community of Castile and León, in the province of Burgos.

The pueblo:

The charming circle of conjoined trees in the Plaza Mayor looked as if they were holding hands.

Vistas from routes in the surrounding area:
A soaring eagle:

I was looking forward to picking mushrooms but we were too late and had no guide. que peña.

All photography by me.

Beyond the photos:

I have often heard my students talk about going to their pueblos for the weekend and I suppose I imagined the nightlife to be a little like it is in a lot small Canadian towns. There's one or two bars where everyone drinks and plays pool then they all go home hammered. Not too thrilling in my experience. I've only ever been to pueblos on day trip excursions and there was nothing in the quiet sleepiness of the street life to make me think that pueblo life was anything other than slow and relaxing. These were my misconceptions until I was invited to spend the weekend in my friend's pueblo.

Contrary to the quiet tranquility as seen in my photos above, the truth is, the streets may have been empty during the day because the townies were out until 8am fiesta-ing. It might very well be that they were tucked into bed sleeping off their resacas (hangovers) while the tourists wandered the cobbled streets and delighted in the quaint architecture. I suppose it does make the town sleepy but not for the reasons I had imagined.

Amaya and I went out at midnight to the local bar to have a couple ron y lemon before disco hopping to 3 very crowded places packed with youngsters (18-21). I wondered where the hell they had all come from. By about 4am we went into another disco that had just opened its doors so I was able to watch as the crowd thickened. There were loads of girls dressed like Amy Winehouse (and not for Halloween either surprisingly enough) and tons of buff guys wearing tight t-shirts or no shirts at all, speaker dancing.

By 5am it was packed to the gills with not just younguns but their parents and their parents' friends. Amaya pointed out all the folks who knew her mother and her aunt. She also introduced me to dudes with strange nicknames, like el chino (he looked not in the least bit chinese). She told me that the youngsters all know each other at this age and how wonderful it was to have a sense of belonging, of being able to return to the pueblo where you are always welcomed. It made me think of the theme song to the TV show, Cheers. And it reminded me of the ties to places other people have that I don't because I have been a wanderer all my life. I thought of the primal connection and nostalgia my ex had for Winnipeg. And I felt a twinge of something inexplicable. But we drank more 3 euro ron y lemons and we danced. By 7am I was done and had to leave but the party raged on and I finally understood just how much the Spanish fiesta in the pueblos.

It was a cultural experience, I muttered to myself on the drive home the next afternoon, trying to keep down the nausea that threatened to expel from me in torrents.


Escrito en la pared said...


Remember the comic you made witrh the pictures taken from the wall in Olivar, 48? I put it on my blog and it has recenly been on tv, as part of a short interview about muy blog. You can see it here. See it complete or go to the 4 and half minute of it.


Shehani said...

Hey, I saw the clip! it's awesome. I'll add that link to the comments section of my original post with my comic. besos!

sirio said...

I think that eagle is a vulture, and the mushroom on the bottom left hand corner is a 'magic' mushroom - Amanita Muscaria, the quintessential toadstool of the fairies.

Shehani said...

we saw the "eagle" fly quite close by to us and it sure looked like an eagle and not a vulture but i could be wrong as i'm no bird expert. amaya told me that one was famously poisonous and since i am no mushroom expert either, i took her word for it. but since this is your old neck of the woods and stomping ground perhaps you're right on both counts.

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