Songs In Europe – Spain Actionlogo idea

Spain Action

Garrovillas and Caceres, Extramadura, Spain

We arrived in Madrid to be greeted by Marisa and Ana who were picking us up along with the Turkish and Slovak groups. After a very late arrival to our hostel, we met the German group in the morning, along with some of the Spanish participants who had travelled to previous actions to start our week in Spain.

After a lovely and varied breakfast, which included freshly squeezed orange juice using oranges from the tree in the yard, we started off with some culture, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Merida, walking around the Roman ruins in the lovely sunshine. In the amphitheatre, members of the group did some impromptu singing, taking advantage of the acoustics of the ruins. Our guide continued the tour around the town, as there are Roman ruins and monuments still standing around the town, including a Roman bridge that is nearly 1 km long. During our tour, we came across a celebration march, as it was the memorial day of a local priest who had started the first schools for children, so we saw the local brass band accompany the march whilst the children of the town carried a podium with dedications to him around the town.

After a long relaxing lunch, we headed back to Caceres to watch a Flamenco performance. We were treated to different styles of traditional dress, solo performances and group dancing. After this, we then headed to the Sbelta dance school to take part in a Flamenco workshop. Our teacher, Armando, very patiently showed the group some steps before having the group divided into the men and women to do their sections. This was followed by a lovely long dinner of traditional dishes.

Our cultural experience continued into the second day as we were given a guided tour of Garrovillas. We visited the churches and heard nuns sing in both Spanish and Indian, which is their mother tongue. One of the Turkish members is a singer, and she gave a stunning performance of Ave Maria for the nuns and the group in the church, in a mixture of Turkish and Latin. After this we were invited to purchase the lovely cakes the nuns make. This tour was followed by lunch in a local restaurant. After a couple of hours sampling yet more lovely cuisine and discussions, we moved onto the folk lore workshop.

Here the local group showed us another type of traditional dance and songs. We were treated to their traditional costumes, which consisted of brightly coloured skirts, aprons and shawls. We were taught a song in Spanish and then then we were invited to learn a dance. The dancers also allowed us to have a go with their castanets, with very mixed results! Once the Spanish group had finished, the rest of us were invited to perform songs or dances. The Turks taught us another song, the Slovaks taught us a circle dance and the UK group taught a dance and song. As well as this, there was the opportunity to show presentations about the organisations or other activities that have happened since the last action in the UK. We were then treated to dinner.

The Monday saw us move accommodation, so after very warm good byes from Joan, our hostel owner, we made our way to Caceres. We were then treated to a tour of the old town of Caceres, but unfortunately the rain cut short the excursions, so lunch was a little earlier than planned. After lunch, we were able to have some free time before we went to see a local choir group rehearse. The group has been together for around 20 years and have performed all over the area at various events as well as the cathedrals. The have a “boast” wall with posters and photos from all the events that they have performed in. Their singing was outstanding and you could really sense how close this group were form how their rehearsal performance went. We were also given the honour of being the first people to hear a new song that they were learning. This was followed by tapas in a bar.

The next day was departure day for the Turkish group, so the rest of us were taken back to Sbelta for a morning of modern dance, taught to us by Cristina, with quite often humerous results! Despite most of the group never before encountering modern dance, we all had a go at working on routines and performing them. After this, we were taken to the “Los Barruecos” National park to visit the “Vostell Museum”. Here we saw more of the countryside of the area and saw the storks that breed in the park. It was nice to have a short walk around the dam, which had been created to serve the wool washing industry that had been housed in the buildings before being converted into the museum and restaurant that you can visit today. This visit and lunch took us into the late afternoon, where we were given a little more free time in Caceres, before having a final meal with Marisa and Anan and saying our goodbyes for our early morning departure to Madrid airport.

Our time in Spain opened our eyes to a range of different dance types. We were given plenty of opportunity to take part in the dances as well as learn the traditional songs in a lovely rural backdrop. The cultural heritage proved to be very mixed in that area and we were delighted by the towns we saw and the impact their history has had on them. This history can be seen in the song and dance. We enjoyed every moment of the action and look forward to the finale in Germany.

A summary video of the Spanish action can be seen here

 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

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