Monday, May 30, 2016

Catching up on Our Trip to Galicia, Spain

A children's folklorico group at Vila dos Infantes. The
leader is getting them ready to perform.  
There are so many experiences from our last trip that I wanted to blog about all the time we were there. But I also needed to finish the rewrite of my cozy mystery--which I did. Now I'm back home, putting the rewrite chapters together for some beta readers to read and give me new feedback. And now I'm free to post again. Despite a lot of rain, it was a wonderful trip.

One particular day stands out,  and that is May 17th. May 17th is my husband's birthday, and in recent years we usually are in Galicia when that happens. It is also El Día de las Letras for all of Galicia, celebrating Galician authors and poets and the freedom for Galicians to read and write again in their own language -- Galego. (Under Franco, it was forbidden.) But friends of ours, Elvira and José, had also been urging us each year to see special festivities at a village called Vilanova dos Infantes, near the city of Celanova.

 The festival includes folklorico dancing groups all day long, as well as artisan displays of spinning, weaving, ceramics, basketry, among other crafts, and it takes place every year on May 17th. So this time we and several friends attended it, and later attended a lunch party by Elvira and Jose afterwards.

We spent the morning strolling around the village, enjoying the dances and displays, before going to our friends' house for lunch. The groups varied in ages, as you can see. Enjoy some of these photos. (I wish I had thought to video it so that you could hear the music.)

As we wandered through the village, we encountered various parades with the musicians using typically Galician instruments. One such instrument is the Galician bagpipe, called the gaito. A gaito player is called a gaitero, and famous gaiteros give concerts all over Galicia. As you can see in the pictures below, the musicians start out young to learn their art.

I tried to get pictures of the artisans at work, but streets were too crowded. And, much as I was tempted to buy a vase, the problem of transporting it without breakage was too challenging.   So, it was enough to enjoy the experience.

 Afterwards we went to Elvira's home to enjoy a sumptuous feast of a luncheon she had laid out for us: so many dishes, and all of them delicious. She and José are such gracious hosts, and you can see we all had a great time with food and wine and wonderful company. (We met Elvira through our friend, Jacki Edmonds, and how we wished Jacki were there to join us.)

Then, of course, Elvira and José decided to do a quemada.

A quemada is both a special drink and the vessel and cups it is prepared and served in. The ingredients are coffee beans, orange peel, apple slices (and some people add other touches), sugar, and, most of all, aguardiente, a homemade brandy in every home that will blow your head off if drunk straight. In a quemada, the effect is reduced because of the way it is prepared. You put all of the ingredients into the quemada bowl, set fire to the liquid, and stir continually until the blue flames die down. (A lot of the alcohol burns off--but not all!)
Here are the masters plying their skill:

The blue flame

And then, alas, it was time to start the drive home. But before departure, I took a few pictures of Elvira's home and view. We love the old stone buildings of villages like this -- they are everywhere in Galicia. And you can see the peace and serenity of Galicia in the view from her window--both the vegetable garden she and José tend, and the layers of hills seemingly without end.

How about you? Do you have a favorite place that seems to exude peace and serenity? Do you like old buildings? Do you garden? If so, flowers or vegetables? Or both?


Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Mitty, I always love reading about your Galicia trip. It looks a wonderful place.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome that you had such a fun trip and got your rewrites done. Pretty amazing that you did this on vacation. Glad you and your husband had such a fun time on his birthday.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

HI, Rachna. Thanks for stopping by. It really is a wonderful place. We hope we can keep traveling there for many years to come. It's a long trip, but it always feels worth the time and trouble to get there.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie. I probably was able to get so much work done because it was six weeks. (We're retired.) In a two week vacation, I wouldn't even have tried. Yes, I was glad we could do something special on Rajan's birthday, too--although I always like to tease him that all of Galicia is celebrating his birthday (since it's El Día de las Letras.) :-)

Rosi said...

You always have such interesting times in Galacia. Happy belated birthday to Rajan.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, thanks for the birthday wishes for Rajan. Yes, there is so much to see in Galicia, considering that it's only one region in Spain and not necessarily the most famous region. But we just love it so much.

Kenda Turner said...

Elizabeth, welcome home! And as always, I enjoyed reading about your travels. Galicia seems like a wonderful place, loved your pictures. Especially enjoyed reading about the celebration of local authors and poets :-) Thanks for sharing...

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kenda, thanks for stopping by. Yes, I love the idea of the Day of Galician Letters. There are such layers of importance behind the celebration, after years of not being able to read and write in their own language. There is one very famous poet -- Manuel Maria -- who was being celebrated in Monforte this year (the city near our village), because he was from Monforte.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Beautiful pictures. Love the dancers. I so enjoy your stories! I find peace among the trees on the prairies. Open spaces, yet the warm shelter of small trees... and yes! I love old buildings!!!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I'm always so glad when you stop by, Tanya. Yes there is something about the expanse of nature in any form that brings one in tune with what matters. Likewise, these ancient traditional dances and music that have been going on, time out of mind. Whenever we witness them, contraries drop away and you see the heart of a people.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Hello dear Elizabeth!! Looks like it was an amazing and wonderful trip indeed :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

It was, Keith. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. I've been enjoying our pictures of Germany on FB.