Andalusia, in Southern Spain is famed for many things including bull fighting, flamenco, great weather and of course, delicious food. As such, when I walked in our traditional local restaurant in rural Andalusia during our last tour, I was ready to feast on my favorite local delicacy: stewed ox tail. What I failed to remember was that, in this part of the world, great food often demands great agility.
With guitars in their hands, the owner Manuel and his cousin walked in, sat right next to us, and with the most intense of expressions, looking us right in the eye, they ignited into passionate flamenco music.
Hands dropped whatever they were doing as more and more people joined in the rhythmic clapping. Then, as if she had always been waiting for this moment, the cook came out of the kitchen in measured steps until she was right in the center of the restaurant… or was it a dancefloor? She had certainly put her heart into making the delicious food, but it was her soul that transpired when she swirled to the sound of guitar and clapping.
One by one, our bravest fellow travelers stood up and proved their skill, and they were greeted by warm clapping and cheering. At first, I was happy to remain a spectator, but then it suddenly dawned on me, as a Portuguese in Spain, it was my utmost filial duty to prove that the unchallenged superiority of Portuguese football, olive oil, wine, fruit and all things that matter over their Spanish counterparts, also extended to restaurant dancing.
So in I went. The Spaniards trembled at the sight of my graceful figure. The guitar strings seemed to echo with awe. One-two-three, uno-dos-tres, hela! I looked around to contemplate the effect of my victory, but instead of seeing human faces, I found myself face-to-face with an enormous bull head, staring at me with deep, black eyes. Caught by surprise, my panicked brain told my right foot to hide behind the left and the left foot to hide behind the right, resulting in a most embarrassing loss of balance.
I tried to be a gracious loser. I thanked my hosts for the delicious food and smiled for the cameras. But one thing is certain – I will be back. And I am taking lessons.