I was told that February would feel like a long month. After all, we have a regular schedule void of any strange holidays off. Unlike the normal working population, this isn’t something I’m used to. I have spiced it up with a few special events like seeing Broadway’s The Lion King in Spanish and doing a cooking class, but this past weekend me and Anna stepped it up and headed down South to the sun and sea for one of the biggest festivals in the country- Carnival in Cadiz!
Carnival is a celebration that takes place all over the world, and is kind of like our equivalent of Mardi Gras. It lasts an entire week and involves a lot of dressing up, singing, and partying. Here, the two biggest cities to celebrate are Tenerife and Cadiz so we chose the latter and took a three and a half hour train there Friday afternoon. We actually stayed in a neighboring city called Jerez de la Frontera after all the hotels in Cadiz were booked quickly, but that ended up being a blessing in disguise!
Jerez is known for their wine of the same name which is referred to in the rest of the world as sherry since jerez can be difficult to pronounce. We quickly dropped our bags off at our hostel Friday evening and walked over to Bodegas Tio Pepe for a tour of one of the oldest bodegas producing tons of sherry and brandy. I wasn’t really familiar with sherry before but after the tour and four-glass tasting, I think I got a pretty good handle on it. After that, we headed out to grab a bite to eat and crashed early to prep for Saturday in Cadiz.
As I mentioned earlier, costumes are an important part of Carnival and we were not sure what direction to go in. Thankfully, an older woman I work with decided to play mom and help me out, lending me bright orange trash bags for us to make Flintstones costumes out of, like her class will be doing this Wednesday for the parade at our school. We decided it was better than nothing and, in the end, the outfits worked out perfectly. Throughout the day we had people singing the Flintstones theme song to us and yelling out “Wilma!!!” which was kind of neat.
Saturday morning, after covering our hands in superglue and permanent marker while making our costumes, we hopped on the train to Cadiz which was only about 40 minutes away. What happened over the next 16 hours is engrained in my memory as a photo stream of ridiculous costumes, talented street choirs singing satirical songs, meeting people from all over the world, and some breathtaking views of the beach. For a peak into my head, take a look at this:
We didn’t get to sleep until 6:30 am and were kicked out of our hostel at noon on Sunday. That led us to hang around Jerez for a pleasant and extremely sunny afternoon which I pray put some color back into my pale face. It’s definitely hard getting accustomed to not being tan in the winter after living in Miami for four years.
You might have missed the part where I mentioned my school is having their own Carnival celebration this Wednesday. For the kid’s sake, I hope it isn’t as crazy as the one in Cadiz but I’ll report back with more on that later this week. For now, I wish you and yours a happy Carnival!