Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Castellers: Catalan Trust

The Catalan culture is stereotyped in Spain as being a stingy, over-thinking, selfish one. But the truth is, they are frugal, logical, trusting people. Nothing shows the Catalan trust like the team sport of Castellers. My host sister, M, asked me to accompany her to her practice last night. It was my second time going, and my first time going somewhere alone with the bright-eyed seven year old.
 Castellers is the building of human 'castles' and is seen throughout Catalonia during big festivals and events specifically for the Casteller competition. The castles are built up of people ranging in age and height, and always include adults, children, men, women, boys, and girls. Dozens of them.
 The 'uniform' for Castellers is a long bandanna wrapped around the waist, and a high collared shirt. The collar of the shirt is worn up right, to protect the neck from those climbing your back. The bandanna serves as a step for the shorter climbers when making their way up the tower.

 Now when we talk about trust, we see here a young man holding up M by just her ankles. Similarly, I felt the trust of her mother, E, as she let me take her daughter to the practice. It is a big responsibility to be trusted with someone else's child, especially when the child is spending an hour standing on people's shoulders and climbing up and down like a monkey.

 There are different styles of castles that they build. They can be as few as this, with three people in one tower....
Or dozens in towers made up of as many as six layers with five or more people on each layer. The names for the different types of castles are given in the numbers in Catalan of how many layers there are and how many people are in each layer. The castle is almost always topped with a small child who crawls over the top, and then slides back down into the base. Most of the people at the base serve as catchers in case someone falls.
 I hope you enjoyed the video and that some day you get the chance to view one in real life. It is simply spectacular what people can accomplish when they work together.