Twice a year I’m reminded that my husband is Spanish. Not that I forget, but today, for example, Rogelio is deeply immersed in cultural activities that I can appreciate, but will never truly understand.
During the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona he adjusts his morning shit/shower/shave just to watch the running live every morning for a week.
Then this week, during Carnival, Rogelio spends every night listening to the Chirigotas from Cadiz, the capital of our province. Even my Facebook feed is dominated by Spanish friends involved in the same.
Chirigotas are tough to understand if you aren’t from around here. Cadiz has its own peculiar vocabulary, sense of humor and obsession with Carnival. Chirgota lyrics are social and political commentary, and always have been. As early as 1523 King Carlos tried to ban the celebration. The dictator Franco tried to shut down carnival but he only managed to change the name. Now, democratic politicians have to clap politely as the Chirigotas take the piss out of them on national television.
My favorite group this year didn’t win.
They are called “Viva La Pepi.” I thought the concept was ingenious and timely. 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the Constitution of 1812, the first free constitution of Spain. At the time Spain was ruled by the French, every corner of Spain except the city of Cadiz. The document, extremely liberal for its times, was signed on the day of San José and was thus known as “The Pepa”, which is the female nickname for José. Pepa, or Pepi, is also the most stereotypical Spanish cleaning woman name ever.
I doubt many of you will understand the video’s lyrics. I can’t. But these men do a fantastic characterization of the typical Spanish woman from my neighbourhood. Right down to the two-inch ash hanging off the cigarette.
The lyrics are full of vocabulary, double meanings, and historical and cultural references that I just don’t get. But the message is, politicians are idiots and that cleaning women like Pepi keep the world turning.