Motorcyclists and the Spanish people; making new acquaintances
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
A lone guitarist serenades the beautiful bride and groom in Spanish wedding song. Rice and rose petals shower the happy couple as they are embraced by their friends and family. A truly unforgettable moment, and another reason why I love the spontaneity of touring Spain.
We stumbled upon this scene during the “Five Eagles Tour”. We had stopped for a coffee and a short rest from bird spotting in Burgo de Ozma. The cathedral provided a beautiful backdrop for our pit-stop. We got to chatting with a few members of the wedding party as they waited for the emerging couple. After snapping a few photos and mingling amongst the crowd, they invited us back to upcoming fiesta. Can you imagine that; a group of random bikers just turning up to your wedding reception in their road gear. Unfortunately, we had to politely decline as we were hitting the road again. But this kind of hospitality and kindness towards people, who are ultimately strangers is rife among Spain and its people.
Each year during my tours of Iberia, I would inevitably get invited to all sorts of communal gatherings. I’ve even helped out with cooking on more than one occasion. These get-togethers are known as “una cena publica” - a public dinner. During a cena publica, you can expect to converse with lovely people, eat fantastic food, and drink amazing wine. Whole villages attend and contribute various things in order to pull these off. I recall that my first invite came when I stopped off in a small village near Burgos. The local people were all busy cleaning the streets and gathering tables and chairs for something. I just decided to start helping out and get amongst it all. I cleaned the street and clipped some of the trees and bushes. Eventually, I got to chatting with the locals and they invited me along to the evening do! This has since become a regular stop of mine and I have become the honorary Welsh member of this village, contributing as much as I can each time.
In the photo with the big cauldron type pot, I am helping to make a Córdoban dish. My friend Neno the truck driver and I spent ages pounding up stale bread from the bakery and stirring it with oil and water. Once the crumbs thickened up, we added padrillo peppers, lamb, and various spices. If I may say so, it was delicious! I do love attending these gatherings and they are one of the many reasons that I keep returning to Spain. There is a real sense of community and togetherness.
There is no simple answer for how to get involved with local communities. My advice to any travellers wishing to make the most of the Spanish culture; would be to:
Stop for a while.
Observe the culture.
Have a chat with the local people.
Where you can, offer a helping hand.
Always be courteous.
Following these basic steps should get you on track to making some great travel experiences. You never know what adventure the next conversation could lead to!
Duncan's Spanish travel books are available from his website. They are full of wonderful anecdotes and travel tips for those wishing to experience the real Spain.