Monday, July 20, 2015

Etnosur Redux and Cultural Conversation

Etnosur was an amazing experience last year, because it was my first time. This year, I went again, partly because it's free, partly because it features amazing indie music, partly because the attendees are mostly hippies and I feel comfortable, but mostly because it was a chance to see my friends from my pueblo. It had been too many months since my last visit to Villacarrillo, and honestly it was like almost nothing had changed since Etnosur 2014. One thing that did change slightly was the language barrier; I joked that last year, with their strong Jaén accents, I understood 20%. This year, ....30% (just kidding, it's a lot higher than that).

Two Etnosur faves: Chocolata & Befunkbop
What didn't change: we're still young at heart, Etnosur was still an awesome 3-day botellón (outdoor drinking party), and I'm still part of the family. This having been my second year in a row attending, I felt more comfortable with my experience. I knew how to pace myself, when to pack it in, what food to eat (fresh fruit is so important), when to time my coffee and energy drinks in order to dance all night, what to wear (the cold evenings were a refreshing change from Jaén's heat), and how to sleep (a quiet flat and earplugs are essential for me).

I returned to Jaén with a Spanish friend, and we had the most interesting conversation about culture shock. She lived in Leeds for a while to study and learn English. I told her that I loved Etnosur because although people looked at me a little bit, due to the nature of the festival I didn't feel like an alien being Asian. Meanwhile, on the streets of Jaén, people almost break their necks staring at me, and it makes me uncomfortable. She, on the other hand, thought there was something physically wrong with her in Leeds because over there, hardly anyone gave her a glance, even though she's beautiful. Of course she eventually learned that in other parts of the world, staring is a big no-no.

We also talked about racism, specifically how people sometimes maliciously yell “¡China!” at me. She said it wasn't racism, rather it was people being assholes and picking what they consider the weakest part of me. It could be someone's face, skin, fatness, skinnyness, clothes... whatever assholes intuitively believe will hurt you, they'll use it as a weapon. For my friend, due to her exotic features she'd been called “Moro” (Moroccan) time to time, but she brushed it off and attributed it to people being anything from jokesters to jerks (to whom she'd respond '¡Que te den por culo!' or “Go f*** yourself.”) To the Canadian, it's racism. To my friend, it's the Spanish 'anything goes' nature. We concluded that this was why we love cultural mixes; we learn something new every time.

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