Monday, February 20, 2012

Los Medievales

Here's me in an outfit again.

This weekend, Teruel was decorated like a giant Medieval festival and people came from all around to dress up like Lord of the Rings extras and get ridiculously drunk in the streets. I've been to a Renaissance festival in Ohio several times, beginning in high school. I like the Medieval setting and the garb and the atmosphere in general. But Teruel apparently makes Ohio look like child's play. Here, there were vendors lined up from the city center to the park, over half a mile away.

In the city center, there were all kinds of haymas, which are private tents and campsites that represent a group of Medieval characters. To get one of these tents, you have to pay a fee, write a research paper justifying your group's historical relevance to the time period, and then decorate the tent in such a way that it represents some aspect of your group's purpose. There were tents for the catapult launchers, the monks, the blacksmiths, etc. Outside the tents, they were cooking out and drinking; inside the tents, there were microwaves, mini-fridges, couches, and so on. They stayed out there day in and day out, all weekend, drinking and eating to their hearts' content.

Haymas from afar.

There were also a lot of interesting food vendors. Most of them were the usual Aragonese staples of cheese and ham, but there was also the occasional squid. A lot of people had desserts as well. And then others blatantly disregarded the Medieval theme and had rows and rows of processed candies. However, I was most interested in the herbal stands that offered all sorts of herbs to cure whatever may ail you. They had something for headaches, back pains, and even one for eliminating fat. I suspect that you were supposed to smoke whatever it was and you'd just not worry about being fat anymore or having a headache.

Assorted meats.

Cutting some squid.

Walking through the streets, you could find all sorts of people dressed up as knights and peasants, but my favorite were a group of wandering, crazy fishermen who "accidentally" slapped people with fish as they walked by. They had the fish hanging on their poles over their shoulders and would swing around and smack people as they walked by. They showed up everywhere, harassing children and old people alike.

Crazy fisherman clan.

As the festival lasted for three days, I got to enjoy having a Medieval-themed birthday as well. I decided to go early in the day Saturday to have a look around. It turned out that the crowd from the night before had somehow mutated into an unmanageable size, making it near-impossible to get around. I ended up buying some chocolate desserts and heading back to the apartment. I did snap a few pictures of the crowd before I left, though:

The viaduct, packed to capacity.

My roommate made me an awesome birthday lunch. I'm not sure what the first course was, aside from delicious, but it contained potatoes, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and some sauce. It was kind of like a big salad of sorts. We also had freshly baked bread from the bakery on the side. For the main course, we had lamb. And the finale was a tiramasu cake, topped with sliced strawberries and candles in the shape of a two and a three:

Later, my roommate and I returned to the city center to enjoy the festivities. We split up so he could go meet one of his friends and I could have another look around. I ended up in the Plaza del Torico (the place with the little bull on top of a column), where I found hundreds of people staring apprehensively in one direction. I was confused until people started scattering and yelling and a bull ran through the square. I was quite dumbfounded but I decided to take a few pictures. I was convinced I was going to get my first shot of someone being impaled, but that didn't happen. 

I made sure to keep several layers of squishy people in between myself and the bull, so as to ensure my survival. There was little to worry about, though, because there were plenty of idiots willing to dance in front of the bull and annoy it enough that it had no interest in me. I took a few pictures and then ran away to find my roommate before I got trampled by the bull or all of the crazy people standing around.

I met up with my roommate and his entourage of teacher friends with lots of babies and we went to a Medieval tournament in the Plaza del Toros. Normally, it's a bullfighting ring (though usually only during the summer). This weekend, it was filled with knights and horses and drama. There were six knights in total, three on each team. Our section was represented by the White Knight, who was on the good guy team along with the Green and Brown knights. The other team had the Blue, Grey, and Black knights. The Black Knight was the villain and he was just really mean to everyone. Thankfully, he died in the end. Unfortunately, he was the last knight to die, leaving the Green Knight the victor. My original prediction was that the White Knight would defeat the Black Knight and satisfy the classic good over evil story. I guess this group was trying to push some kind of New Age, environmentalist agenda.

Score one for Mother Nature, Greeny.

Overall, it has been a very enjoyable birthday weekend. I need to have more Medieval themed birthdays in my future (that aren't just Dungeons and Dragons games). 

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