Monday, August 25, 2008

Feria for a Bear(ia)

This past Saturday, I took my bipedal attendants and my god-bipedal attendants to Málaga's feria, Andalucía's most famous summer fair - famous because malagueños have been drinking and dancing and parading horses and killing bulls (I don't like that part of it) through the summer's hottest two weeks for over 500 years.

On August 19th, 1487, the Catholic Kings entered the city, formally bringing it under the aegis of the crown of Castille. Four years later, Málaga's bigwigs decreed that festivities to commemorate Isabel and Ferdinand's reconquista should begin on August 15th - a time which also coincided with ongoing religious celebrations. The rest is history.

During the day, feria-istas (I just made that word up) head towards calle Larios in the downtown core to party away Málaga's daylight hours and, if they're still standing by evening, will continue on to the Real: the actual fair ground.

We were quickly caught up in the bedlam of calle Larios. One of the official drinks of the feria is cartojal: a typical wine from Málaga - sweet and pale - made from the muscatel grape. Bottles of icy cold wine and glasses are sold everywhere: the ice cream shop behind me (upper right) was transformed into a cartojal shop - and at 8 euros a bottle, it doesn't take long for sobriety to become a distant memory. In fact, the official feria website warns feria-istas:

Pace yourself, though, it goes down great but packs a punch and the fair goes on until late...

Excellent advice which we chose not to take. In retrospect, we probably should've eaten something more substantial than a small plate of manchego cheese.

Instead, we indulged in several bottles of cartojal and a few cervezas, stumbling about the streets with other carousing malagueños - many of whom were wearing typical Andalucían dress (flamenco is the dress code and gender-bending is encouraged). I'm not terribly proud of this but I became so tipsy that I actually was convinced to don a bright red flower - a flor de tela - in my bear-hair. But I'm comfortable with that - I mean, I am a boy-bear and all - but I think it's okay to let loose and colour outside the lines as it were. And I was pretty colourful.

Everyone wanted to have their photo taken with me - which I'm used to because I am a very recognizable and rather photogenic bear (a throwback to my international fashion model days) - but as a freelance Goodwill Ambassador, I was a little concerned that my excessive cartojal-consumption may have fallen short of the high standards set by the United Nations. I confess that my image may have been tarnished a bit too. Oh well. Málaga's feria comes but once a year and I can start working on my role as "pillar to society" this afternoon.

Or maybe tomorrow because t
oday is a holiday in Málaga. The feria is over though - it actually ended yesterday - but because this is Spain, malagueños require a day of rest to recuperate from the previous 9 days of abandon and debauchery. And I always say that when in Rome - or Málaga - you should do as the Romans - or malagueños - do. I'm going back to bed. I just hope that no one sends UNESCO any compromising photos of me from Saturday afternoon.


betty said...

Dear G.B.
Your red flower is stunning. The colour red suits you. The senorita is a beautiful young girl isn't she?
I hope your bipedal attendants didn't get as tipsy as you.

Grey Bear said...

I'm glad you like my flower - I confess that I chose the colour red for that very reason.

I don't like to tell tales but my bipedal attendants were even tipsier than I was!