Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Santiago de Compostela Carnival

There is a patron saint for every day of the year and it seems that there's one holiday for every patron saint. It seems we have nominal holidays here at least every couple of weeks, where many things close, including the department. That said, most of us are still in the office working but today things really came to a halt.

Today, being Shrove Tuesday is big business in this predominantly catholic country and I got my first taste of a real Spanish carnival. Things kicked off at about six in the evening as the streets, lined with people readied themselves for the party. People had been mulling about in costume for at least the previous hour, dancing, and singing to keep themselves warm.

I had expected a couple of rickety old floats with people waving and was stunned by the costumes and energy which went into the whole thing. Despite the rain which towards the end fell hard. Everyone seemed to have a great time as the carnival wound its way up from the station to the cathedral square.

You could spot me a mile away (not just because I was the tallest around by almost a head) but because I was the only person completely unprepared, with no umbrella, and I was also one of the few people with a camera. In China I became used to the idea that the smallest of events was enough to start snapping pictures, and people in all parts of China that I visited liked to invest in very expensive equipment.

In Spain it appears to be the polar opposite and I guess there must have been one camera for every few hundred people - anyway, just a slightly strange cultural anomaly I hadn't expected. There are plenty more photos from the day on my Flickr site but here are a few for the blog:

white woman
green dancer
colourful man
boy in gold

Tomorrow I'm flying to Barcelona early in the morning and then taking a car to Sitges where I'm attending a three day conference. I will be giving a talk on Friday to a pretty distinguished audience and though I'm feeling a little intimidated, I am looking forward to it. I'll report from the conference if there's both wifi and time.

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