Friday, April 30, 2010


One of my favorite things about Seville is the temporal difference I feel everyday. Not only between the American ideals of time and the European, but also between old and new.

I walk down the street, seeing 21st century cars, wardrobe, machinery to the backdrop of a mixture of architecture formed over the past 2,000 years by the Romans, Moors, Catholics and most recently Franco.

The chasm between old and new is sometimes shocking and I feel sad whenever I see a piece of graffiti art drying on walls that are older than anything that exists in my home country.

But the third part of my spring break was just that: young art performing on a stage much older than itself.

Friends, I would like to introduce you to La Feria de Abril (April’s Fair) in Seville.

It started in 1847 as a livestock exchange, but let’s get serious, whenever the Sevillanos even sense an opportunity to party, they grab on like there’s no tomorrow. So in no time, La Feria became a cultural phenomenon full of flamenco dresses, drinking, dancing and tradition.

And this year was no exception.

On Saturday, Lyndsay and I (clad in flamenco dresses thanks to Chencha) walked three blocks to the Feria and sauntered past the casetas and dodged the horse drawn carriages.

Getting dressed up was kind of like getting ready for homecoming in high school. Chencha did our hair and we put on lots of make up. When I put my dress on Chencha grabbed my butt and said it looked nice but then tried to explain to me that I am, how shall I say this, not well endowed up top.

And by tried, I mean she looked at me and told me I'd need to stuff the dress with more than oranges if I wanted it to fit my chest. So needless to say, for the first time in my life, I wore enough coverage to fit a woman that just had triplets. So if you're looking at this picture and thinking, "wow, Chantel has changed a lot since she went to Spain." You're wrong, it's all fake.

[Dressed like Sevillanos with friends, Bryan and Matt]

Casetas are little tents that groups of families buy. They exists as their social gathering point for the week. They hire bartenders and have their caseta catered. In the background the hired music plays flamenco as the women, also dressed in flamenco dresses, dance the traditional Feria dances, the Sevillanos.

However, these casetas are very elite — you must know someone on “the list” in order to bypass the security guard. But there are also public casetas (mainly politic parties) that anyone can go to.

On the outskirts of the hundreds of casetas is the fair, which is not unlike most county fairs in the US. Children flock here when the dancing gets boring and it’s not uncommon for them to spend several euro on carnival rides, games and treats.

(Also, let’s be clear here, I’m only 20, I still qualify as a child…)

[Riding a roller coaster in full flamenco get up with Matt, Bryan and Lyndsay]

On the final day of The Feria, Lyndsay and I stopped by to enjoy buñuelos (a traditional feria treat) and to watch the fireworks. It seemed like a good ending to my whirlwind of a spring break — I was a part of the temporal divide of Sevilla, I had finally been mistaken for a Sevillano and I had made a fool of myself dancing in casetas with old men.

So, if you ever come to Spain and have questions about the Madrid airport, the Feria, or how to make a flamenco dress fit....send them my way.

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