The first time I met Manuela Carpio, I was terrified. I wanted her to like me; the best flamenco teachers in Jerez had a reputation for denying beginners entry into their classes (they only want to spend their precious time with advanced dancers and had no patience for novices). And I was a real beginner. I had never even heard a bulería song before moving to Jerez. I had vague notions about what flamenco was, the glimpses I’d seen and heard throughout my multicultural upbringing, but in reality, I had no idea.
Jerez, as it were, is the epicenter of flamenco. The true history is much more complicated than that (it is actually spread out between three cities—Sevilla, Cadiz, and Jerez), but for our purposes, we’ll say it’s Jerez. Either way, the strand of flamenco we learned (bulería) was born in Jerez, and it is one of the forms that most captures the essence of the city. It is improvised, it is wild, and it is close to the earth.
I used to think every little thing had some deeper meaning. I would read doubly into every action and occurrence, often driving myself mad with possibilities; but then, I stopped and glanced up at the trees that blurred by on my bike, let the wind hit my face, and acknowledged what it meant to be alive. Spain taught me this. I stopped caring whether my stomach squished unattractively in a complicated yoga pose or whether I have a delicious slice of tortilla at a bar for dinner—not that I ever really cared. Loving myself isn’t something that comes easily every day, but it does most days, and that is an accomplishment.
04 March 2015
Feria came and went (and with it, the remainder of my bank account). I cannot think of a better way to round down my time here, and I can say with absolute confidence that I am absolutely in love with Jerez (ahí lo tienes, Marcelo!).
Because feria defies description–and many tried, but I could not grasp the overwhelming joy that was feria until I was there–I will keep this post simple.
It’s finally here–the most magical time of year in Jerez…a proper post to come when the madness is over!
With my time in Jerez winding down (under a month now), I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. This is a (narrative? essay?) I wrote about one of my first days in town, back in September.
It seems impractical to write with the haze of travel still clouding my brain. So I’ll write what I know, journalistic even.
I finally mustered the spirit to pull on day-old jeans and a t-shirt from the dirty pile, but only because it smelled like beach, which isn’t that dirty at all. It seems I am perpetually dehydrated, no matter how much water I consume.