Monday, May 2, 2011

Carpe Diem!

There were two special events here this last week.  Even though my car was not yet repaired (it seems they installed a defective part and will try again when they get hold of another one) at least I had the car in my possession (the mechanic says it’s safe to drive although I find it annoying) so I could vroom vroom my way around to enjoy both the Royal Wedding and the Goat Fair.

Lots of Americans watched the Royal Wedding on TV, but I did it surrounded by Brits without leaving Spain by going to the Restaurant/Hotel Carpe Diem where some local Brits were having a Royal Wedding party, car boot sale, and lunch.  It was all right here, in the middle of nowhere, in the Catalan countryside.

Getting to the Carpe Diem wasn’t as straightforward as it might have been, car trouble notwithstanding.  Eve and I have been to the Carpe Diem Restaurant/Hotel in Miami more than once and when she saw the ad and made the reservation, she assumed that was where she was calling.  But when we got there, in enough time to see the principal parties leave their residences and head for the Cathedral, it turned out that Carpe Diem was closed.  Very closed.  Someone in the street told Eve that they have been closed for months.  What to do?  Was it the other Carpe Diem? 

You see, there are two Carpe Diems.  You wouldn’t think that in a small area with few amenities, there would be two restaurant/hotels with the same name, but there are.  The problem was that the other one, out in the county, was about 40 minutes away.  Would we even get there in time?  And what if the event wasn’t there?  What if it had been this Carpe Diem, OUR Carpe Diem, but they couldn’t call to tell us the party was off because they hadn’t taken Eve’s phone number when she reserved?  If it wasn’t at the other one, we would miss the whole wedding.  Neither of us had the phone number to call and ask.

We decided to meet the challenge and drive out to the other Carpe Diem, the one out in the country, and take our chances that the party was there and that we would make it in time.  We had come in two cars because I had an errand to do before we met up, so off we went, Eve’s car first.

People all over the world watched and celebrated Saturday’s Royal Wedding with street parties and barbecues.  Our event took place out in the Burga Valley at the Carpe Diem, a country restaurant/hotel owned and run by Germans and patronized on Friday almost entirely by Brits.  As far as I know, only three North Americans attended and all three of us were at the same table.  I was the only American, the other two were Canadians: Eve’s daughter-in-law Judy and her friend Lainie.  The husbands had declined to come.  

We arrived just in time to see the bride arrive at the cathedral.  Frankly, it would have been a lot more comfortable if we had stayed at home where we could have watched seated rather than standing, and where we could hear without lots of people chatting away all around us.  And we could have watched from the beginning of the coverage, rather than arriving at the very last minute.  But the barbecue was good (especially the bananas wrapped in bacon and the focaccia with herbs), the ambience was festive, Eve’s granddaughter Isabel wore a tiara, and altogether it felt more like a special day.

Sunday was the Goat Fair at Rasquera.   I seized the opportunity to have another country outing, see some goats, and buy some cheese, all on my own.  Fairs of this type happen all around Europe in the spring.  I understood it was the time when the goatherds and shepherds took their flocks out of winter lodgings and back up to the mountains for summer pasture.  But here they talk about bringing the flocks down.  Catalans have a lot of spunk and sometimes seem to go against the flow.

We were celebrating the local goat and sheep herds in general and the Cabra Blanca (white goat) in particular.   The Cabra Blanca is a species indigenous to this area – a Catalan goat -- and highly prized, as there are only 5500 of them left.  Being aware of their being precariously close to extinction has mobilized people to care for and breed them in order to bring them back to healthier numbers.  Although they are called white, they are mostly white and black with big ears that lop forward and great horns that, in the spirit of Catalan spunkiness and creativity, twirl in a variety of ways, reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s mustache.

Now my car is at the shop, the new part, having arrived, is being installed.  Hopefully, in place of the undulating roar of the engine, my next and all future excursions will be executed with quiet and decorum.

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