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Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Flamenco

Once in awhile I realize I could have done or been someone else...every time I breathe in and feel my heart beat to the rhythm of flamenco, I have one of those moments; that passion and strength and pulse; ah! I should have been born in Andalusia, into a dancing, gypsy family, trained to take my fierceness into dance steps. 

Last night we crowded in with a few hundred others, under the tent, to get a view of what we could from our vantage point of the stage and the marvelous Gema Moneo:


Not that any more words are needed, but in case you wanted to know...I visited Spain once when I was 18, an exchange student who was living for life in France at the time, a dream come true. I was staying with a host family in St.Jean-de-Luz for the weekend, in Basque Country. The brother and his fiance wanted to take me over the border to Spain for the evening. Of course, I went along, I went anywhere anyone wanted to go that year. It was astounding; there were people everywhere in this town; it was San Sebastian, or Donosti, to the locals, in the Basque language. There were a hundred tiny bars in a street with no cars, people going in and out of them, drinking a little glass of wine, beer, eating a pincho (tapas in Pays Basque), dropping their wrappers on the ground...as though that was the normal thing to do, then on to the next bar. It was the happiest set of people I had ever seen, and I did not understand a word of what was being said. I wanted more! 

The next year, back home in college, I found a semester-abroad program; in Donosti! I spent the most wonderful time, living the life of a Spanish/Basque college student; pinchos and kalimocho on weekends, student protests in squares (my roommates, (in our unheated, sixth-floor walk-up), because of a national strike, had not one day of school all semester, so we would join them in solidarity once in awhile). Burned into my mind's eye; walks home with friends along the moonlit beach at 4am, every other free minute also spent walking the beach, the mountains, learning to sail in December in the rocky waves of the Atlantic. 

Our Basque professor, a lovely, dedicated woman, took the whole class (of five) on field trips to museums, to sacred places in Basque lore, and invited us to her house to learn to cook stew in the traditional way, after a morning spent sneaking us in to the men's-only Basque club, and mass at a church with an alter, like many fishing villages, in the form of a boat.  

So, yes, I have a thing for Spain...and the south of France is pretty close to Spain, if you take a look at a map, you can confirm this for yourself. Our town; little Mont-de-Marsan, population 30,000, is home to the best festival; Arte del Flamenco, each July. There is also bull-fighting, cow-jumping and a party in the streets...all coming up next week. If I am lucky, we'll be home in time from the beach today to take in one last flamenco display...crossing fingers now.

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