Sunday, November 02, 2008


Halloween isn't really celebrated in Spain, although notably, there was a special aisle of decorations and costumes added to our supermarket in the last couple weeks. In any case, All Saints Day is much more celebrated here in Catalunya with the traditional preparation of roast chestnuts (castanyas), sweet potatoes (moniatos) and small marzapan balls rolled in pine nuts (panellets), all eaten at chestnut parties (castanyadas) - all high-energy foods for staying up into the night with spirits, though most people don't practice this part of the tradition any more. For weeks Lily's been learning about autumn (tardor) and castanyas and how they are often carried in a basket with handkerchief by an old lady (la castanyera!). Almost every day they've sung chestnut and autumn songs and they recently sent the words home, so I've been trying to coax the melodies that go with the lyrics out of Lil, to little avail. Consider that your Catalan lesson for the day.

So as not to completely forsake Halloween, Lily and I decided at the last minute to attend a Halloween party thrown at the Hard Rock Cafe in the center by some American social league of sorts. Lily, of course, went as a ballerina, a costume we threw together from her play clothes. It is not much to boast about as far as costumes go (we'll go all out next year!!!), but the kid was thrilled to be able to wear such a combination of things, especially play jewellery, out into the world. (Look, Mrs. Hughes, I'm wearing the tutu you sent Lily!)

There was an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet, adults dressed up leading activities and enough multilingual semi-American children in costumes to make your head spin. Due to the loud music, general mayhem, and witch that greeted us as we entered, Lily wouldn't let me put her down for the first hour. Even before the event I knew there would be a cling risk since things like this can be overwhelming for little ones, especially Lil. But I decided to risk it, even without Oli (who was away all day Fri, Sat and Sun competing in an international Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Castelldefels), because if she did like the party, it would totally be worth the gamble.

In any case, I made it through a buffet line somehow managing to get us food and drink with only one arm available. After food time, the two adult leaders (the ladies in costumes in the photos) started teaching the kids a dance to Thriller. There was one dad dressed in drag and he pretty much became one of the leaders as well. Watching the older kids lightened Lil up, and when it was free dance time, we got down.

Balloon animals helped her even more, and when there was only half of an hour left, we made our way to the foyer where various children were chasing and beating each other with the balloon creations the ladies had made them. Lily and a cheetah boy proceeded to chase one another gleefully around the Hard Rock Cafe, the cheetah attacking with a balloon sword and Lily alternately with a balloon flower and her magic wand.

From there, we poured out into the sunny midday havoc of Plaza Catalunya (the centermost plaza of Barcelona) on a Saturday. It rained almost constantly this entire week right through today, so there were massive puddles everywhere. We ballerinas proceeded to splash in them, since we cleverly wore boots, as ballerinas do. This became wildly more fun as we grew bolder and bolder in our splashing, until thirty minutes later the smaller of us was soaked from bottom to toes. I had extra clothes but she declined to change, so we grabbed the metro home. When Lil sat with her feet up on the seat, giant rivers poured out of her boots filling the seat with water. It was pretty funny. We laughed.

Once back in our hood we stopped in the frutería where it was very funny so see a small wet blonde ballerina wandering around with this celery she insisted on holding for me.


Last night Matty babysat for Lil while Oli and I attended our friend Eddie's (aka Edwin, Eddie-san, Eddie Wong, Eddie Chang) goodbye party. We know Eddie in a roundabout way: We once lived with Timo in Barcelona who once went to high school with Eddie back in Bristol and later reconnected with him by accident in Barcelona and ended up living with him. Eddie's Chinese by heritage but grew up in the Barcelona area and went to high school and college in the UK, so he speaks Spanish and Catalan like he's one of them and English as if he were British. It's funny. Alas, though, his Mandarin ain't what it ought to be and he's bored here, so off to Hong Kong he goes tomorrow where he'll live with his older sister for a bit before breaking out on his own in the China (That's right, the China.). It was sad to say goodbye to Eddie, especially since he cooks really well. He made so much food last night (with help from others): rolls of all kinds, tempura, dumplings, ahhhhh. People pitched in and got him a journal that we all wrote in and when it was presented to him, we all laughed about what a crappy journal it was, being made in China and all. (Ha.)


Today Lil and I attempted to go to a castanyada and kids' play at Poble Espanyol, this replica Spanish village about a 25-minute walk from our house. Many events, particularly for kids, are held there so it is nice being close to it. We made it out the house just in time and it wasn't even raining, so I ran pushing Lily in the stroller all the way there, uphill! Just as we arrived I realized Lil had dozed, so I talked to her to see if she would reawaken. She did and smiled so paid my entrance fee and got into the village with 2 minutes to spare. But, Lil was once again out and this time for good. After several useless attempts to elecit a response from her, I got my money back and began walking home in torrential downpour. Thank goodness for massive umbrellas and stroller rain covers. Both walks, to and from, were really nice so I didn't mind the change in plans, although it was disappointing that Lil wouldn't get to see the performance. Of course she woke up just as we arrived at out building, rather than staying asleep for a decent amount of time, and was instantly shocked that we were home (last she remembers we were about to see the performance). Angry tears were shed in a way that broke my heart for the poor kid, but it was nothing that couldn't be put right by cuddling in bed with a cup of warm milk. Thankfully it's theatre season and there's plenty more on next weekend.


Maiasaura said...

glad i inspired you to celebrate it this year. i never used to be big on the holiday myself. the enthusiasm in our house is all thanks to simon seems to have a natural affinity for the day. also, i read an insane amount of craft blogs, you know, and crafters in general seem to be really keen on halloween. so now we are too.

i really enjoy reading about all your spanish adventures. hope you're well.

Maiasaura said...

somehow the beginning of my first comment disappeared (user error, no doubt). it said that your halloween looked super fun.

Caleb said...

Glad you had a happy halloween. How was your Tuesday/Wednesday morning?