Barbastro is in the region of Aragon, and the capital of the region is Zaragoza. For the past week and half the whole city/region has been celebrating the Festival of Pilar. I'm not really sure what exactly they are celebrating, but i know it has something to do with catholicism and an appearance of the Virgin Mary. on second thought, here is the excerpt from wikipedia about it-
" According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared miraculously to Saint James the Great in the 1st century, standing on a pillar. This legend is commemorated by a famous Catholic basilica called Nuestra Señora del Pilar ("Our Lady of the Pillar").
The event, called "Las Fiestas del Pilar", is celebrated on October 12, which is a major festival day in Zaragoza. Since it coincided in 1492 with the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, that day is also celebrated as El Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus Day, literally Hispanic Day) by Spanish-speaking people worldwide.
"El Pilar" lasts for nine days, with all kinds of acts: from the massively attended Pregon (opening speech) to the final fireworks display over the Ebro, there are bands, dances, procession of gigantes y cabezudos (carnival figures made of papier mache), concerts, exhibitions, the famous "vaquillas" bulls and the bull festival. Some of the most important features are the Ofrenda de Flores (Flower offering) to the virgin on the 12th, when an enormous cloak is made of the flowers"So Sarmite and I, along with another girl, Amanda, who lives about an hour away in Huesca, decided to go check it out. We got there and had no idea where we were going, but this nice spanish lady helped us find the Basilica, which we figured was the center of all the activity. We looked around the Basilica and then met up with another girl i met at orientation, Anne Marie, who lives in Zaragoza. She showed us around a little bit, but mostly everything was closed, bc of the siesta. They take that very seriously here and its nice to have break during the day, but its also kinda annoying when you need to get something done, like say buy a cell phone, and all the stores are closed for three hours. We ended up going to this store called El Corte Ingles, which is like nothing we have at home. It's like Dillards, Target, Borders and HEB all in one giant store. We only went so Sarmite could put more money on her phone, but when Anne Marie found out there was a grocery store downstairs, she decided to take advantage of the fact that she had three friends who could help her carry her groceries back to her apt . I think this might be kind of strange but i really love going to grocery stores in other countries. I like to see what is the same and what is different and its one of the first things i did when i got to barbastro. So, i was perfectly happy to be in this huge grocery store, and i found a couple of things i really wanted to get. For example, they had taco seasoning, tortillas, and peanut butter, all of which i have not seen in barbastro. i decided to hold off on buying them bc i've only been here two weeks and i think i should wait until i am more homesick or desperate for something familiar. in two months, im sure i will be soo happy to eat some tacos, but for now im still enjoying trying all the new stuff. after the grocery store, we went back to anne marie's apt to wait for stuff to start happening. in spain, people dont eat until nine or later so we went about eight just to walk around some more and see if anything was happening. the streets were completely full of people and it was really fun just to see all the different people who were there. we saw two different groups of drummers performing in the streets, and also this group of breakdancers and i swear one of them was this guy i saw breakdancing in barcelona two years ago. at nine there was a fireworks show, and i LOVE fireworks, so that was really exciting for me. finally around ten we decided to go eat at this italian place and it was really good. i've been attempting to try any food that is offered to me and not ask questions, bc normally i am pretty picky and im trying to get over that. also i want to fully experience the spanish culture, and of course the food is a huge part of that. at this restaurant they put out a bowl of green olives, which i have never tried before because i always thought they smelled bad. but, i tried them and discovered that i really like them! so far my adventures in trying new foods have all worked out pretty well for me. by the time we finished dinner it was almost 12:00, and we were all super tired and our legs hurt, so we went back to the apt. and crashed. most of the people in the city were probably out until atleast 3 or 4, and i know that some people probably didnt sleep at all. we wanted to see the offering of flowers to the Virging Mary before we left, so we headed out this morning and it was insane!! there were sooo many people, all dressed in the traditional dress of Zaragoza carrying bouquets of flowers to put on the altar. I don't really know if they call it an altar, but thats what im calling it. there were so many precious, precious little kids and i kept trying to take pictures of all of them, and i probably looked like such a creeper. but little kids in costumes are just so cute. we got to the basilica and there were already a ton of flowers on the altar, but by the end of the day there would be soo many more.
Now i'm on my way back to barbastro (i'm writing this on my ipod, and i'll email it to myself, then post it. Thanks Dad!) I have the day off tomorrow for some national holiday but i can't really figure out what its for. Thanks for reading this long post, and i promise there are more on the way.
mucho amor y hasta pronto.