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Sunday, January 30th "Wedding in a pueblo"

A wedding in a pueblo is always an interesting experience. A wedding is always an interesting experience. A wedding at times is an interesting experience. A wedding is a way to lose 12 hours and 70 Euros...

Ok, so it wasn't all that bad. Granada and I left around 6pm with family to go to a cousin's wedding in Palma del Condado, a small town just across the "border" in the province of Huelva. I met a lot of family for the first time, cousins and cousins of cousins and their neighbors. After 30 minutes of standing and sitting we made our way to celebration hall. These places exist in every small town and larger city in Spain. Many choose to leave the city for their celebration and book these in small suburbs or pueblos just outside of the city. Think of a banquet hall of sorts, a place where you can mingle with a drink and pick appetizers off a moving tray, then a large hall for a meal and maybe a dance floor and bar close by. These establishments would likely fold in a year or two if weddings were the only events to be catered for. But this is a big business which thrives on weddings plus the communion celebrations for a catholic country. If anyone should be leaving money in the church collection basket it should be the owners of these businesses.

So, Palma del Condado is a nice little town, with a large church which is cold as can be for a January wedding. Once we arrived at the "celebration station" we began to warm up with a few drinks and of course typical appetizers. I think there is also a racket amongst these businesses to serve the same menu, from the entradas to the main courses. We took our pick of small crackers/toast with soft blue cheese and other assorted sugarless pastries. Then cazon en adobo and gambas con bacon. Of course Cruzcampo was on tap, or a selection of wine. Upon sitting down we made it to the main meal: plates of cheeses and cured meats. Then we received more than we expected - a whole plate of cured jamon serrano for each person, then a plate of shrimp, prawns and a third type of shrimp for each person. Then three additional plates of shrimp to share amongst everyone at the table. Of course a non-alcoholic lemon smoothy to clear our palettes was a must. Finally arrived the main course of pork loin wrapped in bacon and served with potatoes. Afterwards there was dessert (cake), champagne, the wedding cake and then of course chocolates! The groom passed from table to table and handed out Cuban cigars, while the bride passed around a small gift for all the women. We spent the next hour in conversation around the table. Finally, some 4 hours after beginning our meal we moved into the bar next to the dining hall for mixed drinks (Gin and tonic for me, thanks), dancing and then trays of pastries or sandwiches to choose from. I honestly don't think anyone ate a single piece of this last course.

A wedding in a pueblo is also a larger affair. With such a small town you take a risk not inviting everyone you know, as you'll likely see them every day. And as everyone's lives seem to intermingle a bit more than the city folks you soon probably know, or at least know of, everyone in the whole town. There were probably some 225 people attending this wedding, and I was told of others where 400 to 500 people had attended. How this is afforded I don't know, though I must say it is customary or perhaps not frowned upon to hand over an envelope of cash to the bride or groom during the reception. Perhaps it's a nice way of paying the bill? It certainly was well worth it. I met cousins and other relatives of Granada's I never knew she had. And heard stories of their summers visiting when they were children, and how much the town had changed. We were invited to come back to go swimming at someone's pool when it got warmer, or perhaps just for a Sunday meal out somewhere when spring arrives. We also extended invitations for people to visit us in the city. This is common, I thought, but wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see them again until the next big wedding.

Some time around 3:30am we started on our way back to Sevilla. First was a short walk through the town, and there was a certain charm which appealed to me. It could have been the silence of 3:30 in the morning. Maybe the fog settling in over a nice little plaza with large apartments that had several terraces and windows to the outside. Or maybe the few mixed drinks consumed after a meal of ungodly proportions. But I could almost see myself living some place like this. Sure, I might get bored, but I think that can happen just about anywhere. By the time we got back to Seville it was close to 4:30am, and my dreams of pueblo life were long over. Maybe I need two homes - my small apartment in the center of it all and my spacious house in a pueblo somewhere. Now if I can just figure out how to make money, and save it, in Spain I'll be all set to start on my two houses. Although I have a feeling my second home will be likely be a shack somewhere in Extremadura.