Calahorra is a town about 30 miles southeast of Logroño. Knowing that the town was having their annual March ‘fiestas’ and that Cristina had many good friends from there, we were off on another adventure to check out what these ‘días de fiestas’ were all about. We arrived around 7pm on Friday night and met up with Cristina’s friends, Susana and Miguel and their children at their home. All of us then headed down to the town hall in the main plaza to see the ‘chupinazo’, the kickoff celebration for the weekend of fiestas.
Everyone was dressed in white pants and shirts and decorated with different colored bandanas and vests, blue, red, green, and pink. I asked what this was all about and they explained to me that Calahorra had four different ‘peñas’ (social societies) that people belonged to and this was the time of year when they were able to celebrate and represent their different groups. As the chupinazo started there was lots of music and fireworks exploding as the crowned princess of each peña made there way out onto the balcony of the town hall to wave and greet the crowds. We were in a great spot, thanks to Cristina’s friends who knew exactly where to take us. We could see everything that was going on perfectly!! I guess after going for so many years you start to learn the best setup…
After the fireworks were over, we started to walk down the main street (along with all the rest of the townspeople) and hopped into one of the bars on the main drag to grab a drink while we waited for the parade to start. By this time, we were a group of about 20 people, so it was really easy for all of us to make our way into somewhere and order for everyone…right?! No. We had a great group, all different and all very fun and lively, excited to celebrate the night of festivities.
The parade started to go by and each peña had their own float with a theme, mostly poking fun at their own Spanish politicians or trying to find some kind of humor in the crisis. Each float was also accompanied by it’s own band with many different instruments playing upbeat, traditional festival songs. It was so much fun to watch and see all the people celebrating together in the street as they passed by. Kids, teens, and adults all celebrating together and working together to make these days special.
We followed the parade and popped into different bars along the way to stop for a break and a tapa or two. We finally dropped by one of the peña stops where each society was having their own little party. Here, I was introduced a second time to the ‘porrón’ and its contents of ‘zurracapote’…we won’t go into what that is…but it is quite difficult to get the form down on how to drink out of that thing. Everyone in the group was very excited to see me attempt to drink out of this funny little contraption. We followed that up by entering into a bar where just minutes later one of the peña bands entered, surrounded the whole place and had everyone up on their feet dancing. What a fun surprise!! The kiddos were loving it and of course I was too…anything with live music and dancing!! Haha!
Famished at about 12am, we were off to find a restaurant big enough to house the giant group of ours. After a few places sent us away, we finally were invited in to a really great place to sit down and enjoy an awesome authentic dinner: chorizo, eggs, potatoes, and lots of delicious bread…. I know what you’re thinking, this sounds like breakfast, but not here in Spain! Happy and stuffed, we headed back to the house for a good nights rest before we had to be back the next morning for more celebrations.
In the morning we woke up, had some ‘tostadas’ at the house and then were on our way back to the city center, this time headed for the plaza de torros a.k.a. the bull arena. This was quite fascinating to me as I have never been a big fan of bull fights but this was different. None of the animals were hurt in the ‘show’ and anyone who thought they could be, were able to jump in and be a ‘torero’ (bullfighter) for the day. For these festivities, instead of using bulls, they used cows. There was a lead cow who always had to heard the others around and direct them where to go. It was quite interesting the tricks that some of these everyday ‘toreros’ had. I thought it was a great show!! I was caught gasping and gawking many different times throughout the day…
After that, we decided to take our exhausted selves back to Logroño. As we headed back to the house we were passed by tons of people who were just headed down to the center to celebrate the day away. It was a great day to be outside and I knew that these people had a fun day ahead of them!! But with the thesis on the mind…I knew I had to get home and get to work. I guess the fun does have to stop sometimes…but only for a bit. :)