La Feria is of course meant to celebrate the heritage of Murcia and its distinctive qualities, however after spending practically every night there this week I have come to find that it is mostly a celebration of a specific heritage, Los Moros (Arabs). All the light designs have middle eastern influence as does the traditional clothing. Up in the kiosk/shopping section they sell Aladdin pants (of which I now own 2 pairs), Chamsas and other middle easter charms, incense, Kebabs, and a lot of other unnecessary articles that one would find in a fair. Beyond having all this stuff at the fair itself, there was a whole parade dedicated to the symbiosis of Los Moros y Los Cristianos on Saturday night (9/11).
There were also belly dancers, fire jugglers, horses, bands, and large groups of men with scimitars just walking down the street. I suppose because this is Southern Spain I already knew that there would be a large Arab influence in the history of the region and city, but I never expected that it would still be so prominent today. It will be particularly interesting to see how much of the influence stays around after the fair ends tomorrow.
Another huge part of the fair is the international element, and celebrating all different peoples. Friday night (9/10), to celebrate Rosh Hashana, my friend and I went to the Festival de Folklore Internacional (which is folkloric dance, not storytelling. However storytelling would be pretty good too). We saw 5 different cultures perform; traditional Murcian flamenco, Russian polka, African dance from Kenya, Israeli dance, and Austrian dance/bell-ringing. We got hungry and left before the last two countries which were Panama and Cuba. It was really cool to have all these cultures sharing a stage.
The week ended with a spectacular rooftop potluck with about 50 international students (I made paella, although I made up the recipe so I'm not sure how authentic it was...it tasted good though!) and then another trip to La Feria for free cake and fireworks!
L'Shana Tovah and Hasta la semana que viene (Look at me with my two language sing-off)
P.S. The sky is so smoky in the fireworks picture because they were shooting them off about 10 yards from where we were sitting. Safe? I think not