With March comes St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and lots of Irish music, among other things, in Chicago and other places. This year as the holiday approached in Chicago I was reminded of my trip to Spain last year. Yes, Spain. That’s not a mistake.
I flew from O’Hare to Madrid, and after a short layover took another flight to Santiago de Compostela in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia. It was on that second flight, when I could see Galicia from the air, that I was first reminded of Ireland. The land beneath the plane was green and hilly. It rains in Galicia an average of more than 170 days every year, so that explains the verdant views from above. And the inventive rain gear of my new friend Arturo.
After picking up my luggage, there was a bit more travel–a bus ride into the city–so I half wondered if the long trek was causing me to imagine things when I got off the bus in front of the Parador where I was staying. I heard Celtic music. First, green and rolling hills and now bagpipes. What’s going on here?
The Celts invaded about 600 BC and a Celtic tradition still exists in Galicia: the gaita, a kind of bagpipe, is the region’s musical symbol, and the sounds of pipers can be heard in the main square of Santiago de Compostela. Check out this youtube video and you’ll hear exactly what I mean about the Celtic music in Galicia and understand why I might have been confused.
Another image associated with Ireland is easy to find in Spain as well. Along with all that rain in Galicia comes rainbows. Take a look at this next photo. Does it not look like Ireland? Check out the rainbow in the upper right quadrant. I never saw a pot of gold or any leprechauns, but there is a tradition of othewordly characters with special powers: the witch or meiga. Didn’t see any of those either, except for the ones sold at souvenir stands.