Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The past week Barcelona has celebrated Carnaval (the party before Lent, like Mardi Gras) and it has reminded me of why we live here.

Throughout the week I would see funny bits of clothing spotted among the people on the street. A funny hat on a lady going to work, a polka dot bow on the fruit and veg vendor.

A confusing thing to a person brought up Halloween is that there is no set day to wear costumes, although it seemed many people did on the Fri/Sat of the week. If you do something carnaval-y (attend a parade or party, or just want to have a fun day at work) then you have the option of wearing a costume, but there's no one time. Ultimately, this moved from confusing to enjoyable.

Each day leading up to Lily's school party day, the kids were told to bring or do something funny; they had to bring a yellow bow, wear a hat, wear mismatched socks, and bring a green balloon. The school carnaval theme was the jungle and woods. Each class was assigned a story related to forest theme and the kids chose characters from the story to dress up as for the party. Lily's class had Little Red Riding Hood (Caputxeta Vermella in Catalan) and they could choose to be her, the grandma (L'àvia), the wolf (en llop) or the hunter (el caçador). Lily chose the caçador, or rather, caçadora.

They also had to hunt for Sa Majesta Carnestoltes, the king of carnaval (the jester), who just so happened to be hanging out on the school patio in a work vest and boots (a stuffed scarecrow clown, which may sound like the scariest possible thing to leave around a school, but they somehow managed to make look kind and loveable). I didn't get a photo but will see if he's still hanging out tomorrow.

Another positive thing about carnaval was the fun of preparing and the homemade quality. The teachers emphasized just using what we had the house to put together the costumes, and the people I saw on the streets mostly just donned funny things they probably already owned. Teenage girls wore big cowboy boots and raggy old dress-up clothes and looked down-right dorky but it was cool because it was carnaval.

Of course, there is a drag-queen element to some parts of the celebration. Sitges, a nearby town with a gay citizenry is famous for its carnaval parties and parades.

One of my neighbors also explained that in the small towns carnaval is celebrated more than in Barcelona because there are more tight-knit communities and during Franco's time, such celebrations were suppressed in larger cities.

We went to Sitges on a day full of kid-friendly events when our friend Dan was visiting from Wales. We really enjoyed his company especially when he ran after us with a camera trying earnestly to snap a picture of Lily in front of her favorite float. For ages she made us follow a Star Wars float filled with young Jedi paduans led by Darth Vader. She loved him so much that the only way we could get her to let us stop following him was to promise we would have him over to our house. Luckily, Dan has Vader's mobile number. She also wants him at her birthday next year. Do I smell a party theme...?

Need to get photos from Dan.

The Sitges day ended with us meeting a bunch of friends on the beach, playing frisbee, dancing and playing monsters with Lily (who was dressed as a fairy princess) on an empty stage that had been erected in the sand. Dan, Mikey (our friend from New Zealand - the only thing we have in common is Flight of the Conchords), his lovely Italian friend Sara, and our roomie Matt came back to our place where we ate pizza and threw water balloons at people on the street.

The day of the party, the school was transformed into a jungle/forest:

Later that day, parents came for the big fiesta and there was cake, and a couple dressed up crazy playing guitar and singing all the songs the kids do at school. They were utterly impressive, as was the participation of parents in kids in silly dancing and general fun. Lil was a bit grumpy/sensitive and just wanted to sit and watch the "concert". That worked and eventually she went to chase some of her classmates and danced with me. I forgot my camera because when I went to call the elevator, my neighbor was there and we got talking, so I never went back in for it and my tutu :( Just imagine the images above filled with happy people enjoying themselves, and lots of cute kids in funny clothes.

I played Caputxeta Vermella to Lily's caçadora on the way to school that day.

I've cut my hair.

It was done by the man himself. An awesome experience. It seems like Europeans cleverly get nice hair cuts that work with their type of hair. As opposed to using a curling or flattening iron to make your hair do something it doesn't want to. I think Megan Edwards was enlightened to this phenomenal alternate approach to hair life while she lived in London. Love the hair, Meggers.


Martin K. said...

Looking good girl! There's nothing like a good hair cut. :)

Megan said...

Ha! that last comment was me. But it's funny to think about that phrasing in marty's voice.

Angela said...

Marty has been known to throw out the tag "girl" in speech, particularly when impersonating women and gay men, but I was a bit surprised by his effervescence in this case. Loved the recent email - talk soon!