Saturday, August 09, 2008

The family united again in Montrondo; different ways of experiencing Santa Marta.

The first cousins to arrive on Friday night.
Hi again
Last weekend was the annual family reunion in Montrondo. We meet every year as you may have read about before in this blog (Posts from 2006 and 2007). If you have, there is not much to tell as every year is virtually the same and has been since the very first reunion which was on the occasion of my parents in law’s golden wedding anniversary some 16 years or so ago. My father in law passed away in 2005 but we still continue the tradition and possibly always will. It would be impossible not to in such a big and united family as ours.

This year we were 27 people; 14 “grown ups” and 13 “children”. The oldest and youngest grown ups were 89 and 46 respectively. The oldest and youngest children were 37 and 16 respectively. As you can see there were quite a few generations there.

The reunion always coincides with the village festival, Santa Marta and each of the two groups in the family experience the occasion in a very different way.

The young people are only generally seen very late in the morning and sometimes only for lunch. They invariably turn day into night and night into day. The nights are spent out at the fiestas themselves in the village or in the village social club with other young people from the village whom they have known since they were toddlers. They must have a great time as they they come home to bed often between 7 and 9 in the morning, just as the older group are getting up! What they get up to remains a mystery. All I know is that Susana, my older daughter, says that Montrondo is where she is at her happiest.

As for us grown ups, or rather the women in the family, we spend our time doing house work for the 20 odd of us and it’s no mean job making meals twice a day for so many people. When we’re not doing house work we are taking a siesta, reading, catching up with each other’s news or going for walks. The men, so used to associating the village with menial work from their youths, are forever finding some job to do. They just cannot lie around doing nothing.
Saturday evening's walk, Toño, Dolores, Eladio, Yoli and Isidro
The main event of the reunion is the lunch on Saturday. It takes place in the converted cow shed and there are two tables, one for each generation. The menu never varies year on year and is always: cold cuts (ham, etc), potato salad, lamb stew, all followed by fruit and coffee.

The grown ups table at the annual lunch held in the converted cow shed!
Somehow or other each year some sort of activity takes place which has been organised spontaneously by one or more of the members of the family. This year Marta, Suzy and Paula who had spent the week before together at Marta’s home in Ponferrada, prepared a show for after lunch. They really surprised us with their singular and creative representation of this summer’s hit song, La Barbacoa (The Barbecue). Each one of them was dressed in aprons or other fun outfits dug out of old chests in Montrondo. Of course, my dear brother in law Andrés could not resist the occasion to dress up too and sneak into the show uninvited. His was actually the best outfit. Well done kids, this year’s show was one of the best.
"La Barbacoa" show
Andrés, my brother in law who sneaked into the cousins' show. How can I possibly admit that the skirt he is wearing was once mine!
The other big event of the weekend is the Mass on Saturday for which everyone dresses up in their best. The village which is very rural and remote is very small and has no shops or bars, just the church and most of the time people dress extremely casually. So when you see them ready for Mass it looks like a wedding is on and the contrast with every day life there is quite shocking. I just cannot be bothered to dress up and put make up on and so hardly ever go. However my sisters in law make quite an effort as you can see from these pics. The "kids", of course are all mostly asleep so generally miss Mass. For Eladio it is a time to greet familiar faces from his past and he never misses it.
My sisters in law Yoli and Pili dressed for Mass
My sister in law Adela dressed up to go to Mass
And all too soon, the reunion begins to break up and in ones and twos people start leaving. We all left, except for Susana, on Monday after lunch, leaving “only” 12 people behind.

Above are just some of the photos of last weekend. A bigger collection can be seen in my album on Facebook

Once again, a good time was had by all. And now perhaps we grown ups should think about putting on our own show for the younger generation next year.

Cheers till my next post

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