Celebrating In Spain

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I SUSPECT for many the “Where were you when Spain won the 2010 World Cup” will be this generation’s equivalent of the Kennedy assassination, the first Moon landing, the death of Elvis, the murder of John Lennon or the Live Aid concert in 1985. Of course as world events go winning a football match shouldn’t compare with any of those events, but in today’s over hyped world, I imagine for many it will, and as far as celebrations go it will certainly take some beating.

Because without doubt Spain knows how to celebrate, and to participate in a Spanish celebration is to see Spain in its full glory, the traditions, the culture, the sheer enthusiasm to enjoy success and celebrate it, and not least… the stamina!

But what makes the way the Spanish celebrate so attractive, so appealing, so joyful, so memorable? I have been reflecting on this for a while, and in particular how best to describe it, and have come to the conclusion that the best way to explain it is  to take you through the actual day of the World Cup Final.

During the day it was very much business as usual here in Almerimar, with very little indication that anything major was happening that evening. A few more flags maybe, but nothing specific. Certainly no pre match partying or fuss. Indeed we walked down to the marina around 7pm via the beach and there was a normal amount of Spaniards for a Sunday evening enjoying the sun, and carrying on very much as normal.

Walking round the marina around 8pm it was generally very quiet, with the exception of the ‘square’ where some music, horns and drums could be heard, but with all the bars, cafes and restaurants chairs had been put out, TV’s had been erected, and a lot of effort had gone into ensuring that as many as people as possible would be able to watch the game, enjoy a few beers, and sample the tapas. But still… not a lot of people!

Indeed we bumped into some English people over on holiday who commented that it was a lot quieter than they had anticipated, and overall thought it was all a little flat. Couldn’t help but smile and encourage them to be patient…

By kick off the bars were full, the drinks were flowing, a steady stream of tapas and raciones were delivered to the tables … noisy, boisterous, fun filled tables. Everyone sharing, nobody counting or worrying about ‘their share’. By magic the food and drink kept turning up, no doubt of that, no need to detract from the main event… the sheer joy of watching your country do well in a major sporting competition, again!!!

And then the final whistle. Did I say final? Think ‘starting gun’! Everything that had gone before was just the warm up act, a competent entertainer before the main event. In one unified mass the whole marina joined Spain and erupted! People spilled out of one bar and into another, glass in one hand, vuvuzela in the other. Drums banged, horns blew, cars carried passengers inside and outside around the marina in a simultaneous combustion of noise, colour and fun.

I bumped into the English tourists in the early hours, they couldn’t speak, but their mile wide smiles said everything that needed to be said.

English, German, Spanish, Dutch and Swedes, partied with the French, Romanians, Russians et al.

Trouble? None. Police? None. Fun? More than you can begin to imagine…

A celebration like most thing in Spain is best not planned, so don’t rush it. Let it gather it’s own pace and momentum, go with the flow, don’t force it or try too hard. And most importantly…. there is never any need to be the first or the last at the party in Spain. The World Cup celebrations in Spain matched perfectly the performance of the team. A slow start, steady progression, and few sporadic bursts of excitement and then… total, unadulterated joy!

As we walked home in the early hours of the morning, the occasional car horn could still be heard, and all the people we passed in the streets communicated in that universally understood way… a smile! As we had a last drink on the balcony overlooking a peaceful marina, secure in the knowledge that the festivities would still be continuing until the early hours, it was impossible not to smile, punch the air and whisper “Yes… I was there!”

To conclude: to celebrate properly in Spain is to know Spain properly!

Costa Almeria Living: By Chris Marshall

www.almerimarlife.com

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