Everywhere We Go, We Find Ourselves in the Middle of a Huge Party
As we've traveled, I used to wonder why we were always being swept up into some fantastic new celebration. But now I think I know.
The world is currently an extremely grim place. So — and I hope no one finds this insensitive — it struck me as a good time to write about something upbeat.
Like festivals and celebrations.
Since Michael and I started traveling full-time at the end of 2017, we’ve often found ourselves right in the middle of some pretty amazing ones.
The first few years, it seemed downright uncanny. There were huge parties almost everywhere we went. What the hell was going on?
In our very first nomad destination, in Miami, Florida, we lived near the edge of Little Havana, which was soon engulfed by something called the Calle Ocho Music Festival — a celebration of Cuban heritage that is said to be the largest street fair in the world, with a million or more visitors.
There was salsa on the tacos and also in the streets.
At our next stop, Malta, the country was pulling out all the stops to celebrate their being named a European Capital of Culture. You haven’t seen fireworks until you’ve seen them exploding over a city that is basically one massive medieval castle — watching them from the ramparts of another castle across the bay.
Our next destination, Matera, Italy, was already blowing our minds due to the presence of a vast, ancient city called the Sassi. But not long after we arrived, a local friend said, “You’re in luck! Festa della Bruna, our local festival, happens today.”
I was tired from travelling and didn’t want to go, but my friend insisted. “You must! To us, it’s more important than either Christmas or Easter.”
Of course, it ended up being an amazing experience — and the music, parades, food, fireworks, and massive banks of colorful lights were the least of it.
Every year, the town removes an ancient statue of the Virgin Mary from the cathedral and places it on a massive wagon made of papier–mâché, which is rolled all over town in a great procession. Then when evening comes, the statue is placed back in the church, the wagon is “deconsecrated,” and rolled into Piazza Vittorio Veneto…
…where all the young men in town proceed to attack the wagon, tearing it completely apart and carrying the pieces away. The bigger the piece you end up with, the better your luck supposedly is for the upcoming year.
By the way, they take this “luck” thing very seriously. Word was, you could sell large pieces of the wagon for thousands of dollars on eBay. Who knew “luck” was transferrable?
And while it has traditionally been a male-only event, in 2018 — for the first time ever — a woman helped tear that wagon apart too.
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