Chañe Fiesta

I survived the Chañe fiesta. It was hard work. Despite the reputation Irish people have for drinking we are not a patch on Spaniards. Of course the reputation Irish people have for drinking is so great, that most Spaniards simply conclude that I am a poor excuse for an Irishman.

My sister-in-law was one of the reinas de la fiesta. This meant that she got a new dress but had to perform a few official duties. She was more concerned, however, that with only days to go she and her buddies didn't yet have a peña. I thought my nickname of reina sin peña was hilarious, but no one else found it funny. Peña is a difficult word to translate. The best I can do is shebeen. A peña is a drinking den where teenagers go to drink, smoke, and make out. In Spain parents accept that their kids are going to drink. They don't just give them money for this, they often give them real estate too. In Chañe most peñas are disused farm buildings. Not so long ago people kept their farm animals in the village. Now that that practice is no longer allowed there's a glut of sundry unused sheds and shacks. However since my sister-in-law and her friends had not secured a decent peña she informed us one day that they were going to build one. I haven't seen that kind of gumption since I lived in the US. Sure enough they found a plot of land and built a peña. As a rule I don't think children should be allowed to do their own welding, but no one was injured.

I spent time in my brother-in-law's peña. This was a bit less third world, with couches, a bar and three fridges. Thursday was the first night of the fiesta. It was an uneventful night in the peña until someone noticed that the guy who ran the kiddy train was packing up for the night and offered him money to drive us around. So for the rest of the night we went from bar to bar drinking, like everyone else, except we went from bar to bar in our very own train. It was a real hoot. I had great fun doing my regal wave to the plebs.

I adopted a one night on one night off strategy, so Friday night I took it easy. I went to the ecological bull run. These bulls were more interesting than those I'd seen in other villages because these bulls squirted water. This meant that even grown ups ran away from them screaming. The layout of the street was bad and everyone was bunched up in one corner so it wasn't as much fun as it could have been. It was still terrifying for many children and one little boy pissed his pants.

Saturday was a drinking night and so after dancing with the siñorita in Plaza Mayor until 4 when I went to the disco with my brother-in-law. The disco is always interesting because it has become a de facto Romanian bar. The owner even plays Romanian music so it's always an interesting night. I left my brother -in-law to his fate at 7. He surfaced hours later.

There was a procession on Sunday after mass. At various stages the procession stopped, the band played, and people danced the jota. I must learn the jota.

I was horrified to learn that when people said Sunday was the last day of the fiesta they didn't mean a beer shandy after mass. Sunday was in fact another all out drinking night. But not for me. I had cashed in all my party chips on Saturday night and there was nothing left in the bank. There was no band in Plaza Mayor Sunday night on account of el crisis (the recession). Bands cost several thousands of euro a night and so Chañe had opted for just three nights worth.

The siñorita went to a bull fight and decided without any prompting from me that it is cruel and pointless.

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