My wealth was recently evaluated by a very smart-alecky nine-year-old.
“Oh, you don’t have any play mobile toys? It’s because you’re poor. Even though you have a job, you have to teach me English for extra money, right?” My darling Manu, future right-wing politician.
This came in response to my question, “What did you ask the Three Kings for?” And he answered, “The Play Mobile pirate ship, the Play Mobile Circus, the Play Mobile….” I stopped listening since the kid will show me everything next Monday and gloat about how his grandpa buys him a new toy every week. Stupid rich people. Manu does, however, get one gift from Santa Claus, a fairly new trend for Spaniards caught in a constant barrage of American culture. Gifts are given on the Epiphany, or today, January 6th. But because school begins again tomorrow (and my body is stuck on America time, hence beginning this entry a mere six hours before I need to report to Valle’s class), kids sometimes receive their presents from Santa so they have time to test-drive them.
Christmas is reserved for big meals and solemn remembrance of the birth of Christ (followed by the occurrence of several of the Seven Deadly Sins), so los Reyes Magos is where the childlike wonder of the holiday season is displayed. I arrived back to Espanilandia on the 5th in the am, slept the entire train ride down south, ate lunch with Kike and konked out for four hours. Then, like a little kid, I grabbed a bag and begged him to take me to Triana for the cabalgata, a parade that winds its way through the better part of the central neighborhoods.
According to tradition, the infant Jesus was visited by three men from the Orient – Gaspar, Melchor and Balthasar – who came bearing gifts. This day is celebrated as the Epiphany, so kids write letters to the favored Moor, who waits for kids at the end of nativity scenes, scoops them onto his lap and asks what they want for Reyes. A Moorish version of Santa Claus. On the 5th, the kids wiggling with anticipation, the Reyes Magos storm into town by way of a parade. Kike and I camped out in front of Java Cafe in Triana at dusk when we heard the police sirens. Those elected Los Reyes, usually famous toreros or cinema directors, ride through the city for hours on gigantic floats. Announced by the Gitanos de la Orilla and the brass band, as well as Moors on horseback, the cavalcade came rolling in a good hour after projected.
The city of Sevilla, as well as each neighborhood or district, had between 15-20 large floats, fashioned after Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland, aliens and the like. Lit up by hundreds of bulbs, the floats are stocked with bags and bags of candy, toys, balls and sometimes even small appliances! The streets were just as packed as they would be during a Semana Santa procession, but instead of somberly remembering our favorite saints, people jumped and sang, asking the hundreds of children atop the floats for candy. I brought a cloth bag and held it over my head, both for defensive purposes and because it could catch candy in it. The little girl next to me complained that I was getting more than here until I pointed to the ground and to all the candy not caught by spectators. Shut her up. A few hours later, after watching Sevilla FC kick Barca´s culo, we went back to Java for a drink. My boots were caked with hard candy gook, and the streets had yet to be cleaned. I felt slightly dizzy from the sugar high and getting knocked in the head a few times.