Street Entertainers

Rather Me than You

A busy week ended on Easter Sunday with a lunch invitation from friends. Our opinion was sought on one of my favourite pastimes, wine selection. We were charged with the serious responsibility of choosing a suitable wine for the wedding reception of their eldest daughter, later in the year. After sampling four of the region’s finest, Val da Lenda emerged as the clear favourite. Given its young age, it is remarkably smooth, mellow and sophisticated. Come August, those wedding guests are in for a real treat.

The week had started on a high note: literally. Visiting friends from California invited us to a music concert at the Auditorio Muncipal in the town of Quiroga. Star of the show was Maria do Ceo, a Fado singer from Portugal, who now resides in Galicia. As the date approached our apprehension grew. Friends had greeted our announcement with curious facial expressions. The type of expression that says, “rather you than me”.

Maria do Ceo

A sparsely attended concert hall did nothing to allay our fears. Portuguese Fado music has a reputation for being mournful and dower; nothing could have been further from the truth. Two musicians took to the stage. The auditorium fell silent as the lights dimmed. Moments later Maria glided in, wearing a black, satin evening dress with a long, dark shawl draped over her shoulders.

The musicians began to play: a Portuguese guitarist accompanied by a traditional classical guitar. Lively melodies filled the theatre and then Maria began to sing. Perfect pitch and passionate tones, each ballad told a story of life gained or love lost. The performance was flawless, far exceeding our expectations. Fado is one genre we’ll be looking out for in the future and Maria do Ceo in particular.

It hardly came as a surprise that the glorious weather came to an abrupt end the moment the Easter holidays began. But we had no intention of letting a little rain spoil our weekend.

Saturday saw the start of the two day Medieval Festival in Monforte de Lemos. Reading through the packed schedule, we decided to time our visit to coincide with the parade of contestants dressed in medieval costume and street entertainment of jesters, minstrels, and knights.

With usual gusto the local town’s folk, along with many holiday week visitors, immersed themselves in the occasion. Hundreds of people wandered around the streets dressed in all manor of medieval costumes: from kings and queens to blacksmiths and milkmaids. Participants in the costume contest climbed the stone steps in Plaza España, paid homage to the king and queen while the massed crowd applauded their efforts.

Afterwards we made our way up the narrow lanes heading towards the castle. Medieval themed market stalls lined the route and the sound of Galician bagpipes (gaitas) drifted through the crowd. On our return to the square, a large crowd had gathered around a group of street entertainers.

Two, twelve foot tall jesters danced on stilts urging onlookers to follow their motley crew through the streets of Monforte. Supporting their flamboyant act were a band of noisy drummers and a group of excited dancers, escorted around the town by a troop of medieval soldiers.
Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs

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