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  • Carol Duval

The Spirit of Catalonia

One of the unexpected discoveries about living here is the whole Catalonian experience. We should have known or at least investigated before coming, but better late than never.

First it was the distinctive red and yellow striped flags with the white star on blue backgound—then the insistence by various people we met about being CATALONIAN versus French (or presumably, south of here, Spanish), and then the odd spelling of words that seemed vaguely French or Spanish but not quite. We also didn’t realise how close we’d be to Spain.

We were in luck too, arriving just in time for the festival in the local town of St Laurent de Cerdans. The dancing, music and spirit of community in these festivities were remarkable. Lots of interesting footwear too— another new factoid is that this area is famed for its espadrilles. They certainly are lovely to look at but those laces weren’t too hardy when coping with the Catalan dancing. Many a dancer had to try to manage unravelling laces. finally having to kick them off entirely.

There was an interesting and somewhat bewildering dance to do with bears and drinking lots of what looked like oil out of glass beakers—all in good fun and much enjoyed by all.

We saw a fascinating art exhibition in Perpignan totally built around ballot boxes similar to those used in the recent referendum where the question was posed as to whether Catalonia should be independent or not. The YES vote won but Madrid came down heavily against the leaders who I believe are still in prison. I thought at the time it was a bit silly but now, being here on the ground, I see the strength of the Catalan spirit and what a proud people they are with a fascinating unique culture. Now I get it.

Ballot box art

Now Richard too is really getting into the spirit driving Elaine's sporty Mini but making sure he parks next to a Catalan coupe.

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