Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Welcomed into the bosom of our adopted family

I'm not much of a dancer. I don't care for it anyway but then I hurt my hip dancing in 1973 so there was a bit of a hiatus till I tried it again. That must have been the mid 90s. I hurt myself again then though I can't really blame the dancing. I was so drunk that I was a tad unsteady and I cracked my head on the wall when I was in the urinal. I didn't notice at the time but Maggie was apparently put off dancing by the trickle of blood running down my forehead. Anyway I don't dance.

So last night at around 2am I was the only person left seated at the big long table where we'd just eaten. Several people tried to persuade me to dance. I said no, I always say no. Looking at my actions from the outside I must be a bit of a party pooper. I never dance, never sing, never get involved in the hilarious games. Stand offish. I'm better when I've been drinking but I had to drive last night so there was no liquid help to hand.

The events leading up to the non dancing were odd. Last year as we wandered the Pinoso Fiesta we saw hundreds of people having a meal in the car park next to the Town Hall. It looked like good fun. So, this year when I read somewhere that to go to the Cena de Convivencia, something like the Living Together Dinner, you had to register at the Town Hall for a seat that's just what we did. At the time we were told that we had to provide our own food. Fair enough we thought, a late night picnic.

One of the leading lights in the Culebrón village hierarchy is a young woman called Elena. She works on the local radio and, if I understood what she told me correctly, she was reading out, on air, the names of the people going to the Cena and she saw our names there. It turns out, and we didn't understand this at all when we booked up, that the dinner exists principally for the groups that participate in the floral offering which takes place earlier on the same evening.

By sheer chance Elena saw our lone names and invited us to join her and a few other people we knew. At this point we were still under the impression that it was individuals, or groups of chums, taking the meal together. So began a series of WhatsApp messages as I tried to wrest the information from Elena about our part in the jollities. Pretty early we learned that the key element the food was going to come from a local roast chicken takeaway but in lots of ways we were still completely in the dark. When and where exactly would we meet, did we need to take plates and glasses, how was the food being bought, did we need starters, puddings or drinks to accompany the meal? In an English way I wanted full chapter and verse and in a Spanish way it was all in hand because it would be "as always."

It is ages since I have felt quite so confused about what was going on. My WhatsApp messages used lots of words like confused, lost and foreigners.

On the night of course it ran like clockwork. The villagers had everything under control. We were directed to the appropriate seats to make sure we weren't left out of anything. Maggie joined in without any problem. She was grinning, chatting and dancing.

Of course I wasn't dancing, I'm so old that my tenuous grip on the Spanish slipped away as the multidirectional conversation had to be shouted above the noise of the live band providing the dance music. Not much chatting then but I did do my best to grin.

 "Now you don't feel so lost, do you?" said Elena to Maggie.

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