Enhancing Spanish Cultural Identity: El Flamenco!
Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
34Trip End Jun 07, 2009
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Thursday and Friday night started out as fun, but basically ended up not so fun since plans become skewed as a result of a few events not even worth mentioning.
The highlight of the weekend by far was Saturday evening in which Alex, a girl on the program, and I went out to a delicious tapas dinner at Lateral and then attended a flamenco show called 'Carmen', headlined by the incredible, dashing, and sculpted Sara Baras.
After ordering a bottle of the house wine, Alex and I perused the menu of our favorite tapas place, pondering what would best cleanse our palates and satisfy our roaring appetites. After several minutes of pondering and questioning we went with the follow:
-Albóndigas (Delicious veal meatballs)
-Queso de cabra (Goat cheese spread over bread and red pepper and piece of lettuce)
-Croquetas de jamón (fried batter filled majestic ham - in essence)
-Patata rellena con jámon y huevo roto (Baked potato filled with jamón atop a fried egg waiting to mashed into the jamón creating an oozing ham-filled potato waiting to be annihilated...by me)
That was it. It was all fantastic, especially talking over a nice bottle of wine. It was perfect.
We began our walk to the Theatre for the flamenco show. Unfortunately, it was raining, but Alex brought her umbrella. I got retrieved the tickets from the box office earlier that day so that we could go in right away once we arrived. We were a little earlier so we grabbed another glass of red wine and sat on some cozy couches before entering our bird's eye view seats (more or less). The theatre seemed very elegant and sophisticated, thus enhancing the Über cultural experience that we were about to have.
We waited a couple minutes and on the stage they went. We initially heard a mix of sounds, ranging from clapping, a drum, classical guitars, and the pitter-patter of the flamenco dancers' shoes on the stage. However, not only is this performance a mix of song, dance, and guitar music, there is actually an entire plot line as well. However, in all honesty, the highlight of the show by far was Sara Baras. Even from 200 feet up and without wearing glasses, I could tell this 38-year-old dancing queen was incredibly sexy, freakishly chiseled, and pouring out her heart and soul into this performance that they call Flamenco. We watched her prance around the stage click-clacking away with her male accompaniments, eventually letting her down and even pouring some of her sweat on the members of audience seating in the first few rows. At times, this woman moved her feet so fast that it looked as if she had a Hover Board beneath her feet and was simply gliding across the stage a la Marty McFly in Back to the Future. However, this whole combination of intimate guitar sounds, back-and-forth clapping patterns, and extremely rapid dance movements and emotions created an aura that captivated me for the hour and 40 minute duration. I kept looking over at Alex, and just saying, "Wow, she is ridiculous," and continued my captivation. The performance ends with Sara, perhaps having 'died', but she there is there, clad in all black, smoking a cigarette like a complete badass. The whole crew does a bow, and then proceeds to do some customary 'freestyle flamenco' in which each dancer showcases their personal skills for the crowd as a last little treat. Simply magnificent, and yet I felt extremely cultured at the same time. We did it right!
Although the video doesn't hold a candle to a live performance, check it out to get a better idea of what it's all about:
The rest of the weekend finished out fine, although one thing does stick out in my mind following dinner on Sunday night. After enjoying some nice potato stew with delicious costillas (ribs) that fell right off the bone, Maruja looks at the calendar and realizes Jon and I embark on June 10th. However, little does she know that we actually leave on June 7th. Upon realizing this, she became a little nostalgic and saddened to know that we only had a month and half left. She began to tell Jon and I that we should just stay for at least another week or 10 days once the program finishes since that's what most kids do. However, Jon and I regretted to tell that we had jobs and responsibilities back in the states that we must attend to once our program ends. She began to tear up a little bit (and then a lot), and tell us that we have been such a great experience for her and cannot believe how the time has flown and that we only have such a short time left. Jon and I ourselves become a little sad but obviously held back our emotions, and I tried to change the subject as fast as possible. However, albeit an extremely emotional circumstance, it was gratifying to know that we've had such a great Spanish family experience and that Maruja loves us so much, as if we were her own sons. 7 weeks left Madrid...pretty ridiculous. I'll have to embrace it to the fullest as I do with everything.