This morning I had to shift to another room yet again. I’ve been trying to extend my reservation for more than one night, but the desk attendants aren’t very helpful. They insist that I have to book online if I want more than one night at a time. So I continue to move from room to room.
As I was heading into my new room, a guy followed me to the door. He thought he was in the same room but turned out he was actually staying next door. His name’s Frasier, and he’s from Scotland. I had thought Daki the Irishman’s accent was hard to comprehend, but I am completely lost with the Scottish one. I stared at Frasier blankly for several minutes when he introduced himself. I had not a clue what I had just heard. He had to repeat himself more slowly and enunciate each word before I managed to piece together his name and origin. I asked Frasier whether they were taught this type of English in school. I imagined all sorts of strange spellings, grammar, and maybe even a different alphabet being taught to Scottish children. But no, they are taught “proper” English in school. The vernacular remains unchanged, however, and for Frasier to speak “proper” English is like speaking another language. Lucky for him, Steph has no problem understanding him. She spent two years teaching in Edinborough, so she has a good grasp of the dialect.
Later tonight Steph, Kathryn, and I attended a flamenco performance at the nearby Casa Patas. Two guitarists, two singers, and a percussionist (beating with his hands a box that also served as his seat) comprised the music ensemble. First a man and a woman danced together, and then each performed a solo.
The woman’s dance is intense, sensual, and controlled. Not once does a smile crack her face or break her focus. Her ebony hair is slicked back, tied in a bun. She wears a long, black skirt with full sleeves and covered neck. Like petals of a flower, pink frills trace the hem of the skirt. Her movements are graceful. She twirls, every movement sharp and purposeful. Face glistening. Body swaying. Hips curving. Skirt swirling. Eyes intent, head held high, proud, defiant. Arms swinging, fingers snapping, body twisting. Flashing eyes sear us with their suddenly haughty glare. The wailing voices of the singers, accompanied by the twangs of the guitars, the drumming on the box, and the rhythmic clapping, all in synchrony, propel her on. The singer’s voice strains higher, a sound of profound yearning and loss, the effort of which contorts his face weirdly, almost comically. Maria, the dancer, has slowed down, her body now weaving sensuously, her hands following, curving like two serpents at her sides. Suddenly she launches into a fury of movement. Her body twists and turns wildly. Her hands clap above her head and slap against her body, and her feet pound the floor, the staccato of her footsteps growing in intensity. The music and clapping swells to keep up. The tapping of her feet reaches an astonishing speed and intensity. She lifts up the hem of her dress to reveal powerful, smooth calves, pumping tirelessly. She flings her body around, pounds her feet one last time, and brings her right fist up. Instantly, all falls silent, and the lights turn on. Then thunderous applause and yells of “Ole!” fill the small room.
Afterwards, Kathryn, Steph, and I found a place to eat churros. Usually eaten for breakfast, churros consist of a cup of bittersweet, hot chocolate and a plate of fried batter sticks. You dip the sticks into the chocolate and then eat them. Quite delicious and filling.