Monday, 1 June 2015

10 Times in which Dublin was just like Barquisimeto

It might sound a bit out there, but there are a few things here in Dublin that some how remind me a lot to Barquisimeto, the capital city of a county ("estado") in the west of Venezuela called "Lara". I lived in Barquisimeto for around five years (basically life there shaped my childhood), and in Dublin now for a bit more than a year, long enough to realize a few things about the city's personality.

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So, here are ten times in which Dublin was just like Barquisimeto...

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1. The love for crafts: When you are in Barquisimeto, going to a craft market is a must, especially during craft fairs. People love to get hand made stuff for the house or to give as presents, whether it's knitted stuff, wood carved stuff, little paintings, pottery, etc. This enthusiasm for the local craft is very strong in Dublin as well, and they even take it here to the next level, with many lovely shops in many parts of the city selling hand made items.

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2. The country taste: In both cities, dairy farms are not far from the centre and farming is a very important and influential business. This makes for posh hotels and restaurants with a very rural aesthetic, and a preference for a style a little rough around the edges. It's not uncommon for locals to go to nearby rural towns during the weekend, and the idea of a countryside holiday in a nice farm with artisan food is very trendy and valued in both cities.

3. The amount of funeral houses: I have been lucky enough to visit a few cities and just in these two have I've seen so many funeral houses on the streets. They look just like any other shop, with their sign on the door and next to your local bakery or florist. I know that (at least according to Hollywood), Irish funerals are a big deal, and the same goes for the people in Barquisimeto.

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4. The graveyard as a normal part of the neighbourhood: Continuing in the same line, it is not uncommon for a graveyard in these two cities to be part of the community landscape, but, unlike other places where it's situated far from the people's houses and has a distant and lonely feel, both in Dublin and Barquisimeto, graveyards feel somehow more normal, more like a quiet place that's part of the neighbourhood. 

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5. The power of music: Venezuelans give to Barquisimeto the nickname of "The Music Capital of the Country", and even though Dublin is already a capital city, the fact is that they both value live music very highly. People expect to hear live music at many occasions, and a remarkably high number of people know how to play an instrument or at least sing decently. And also, even though they both are busy modern cities, they hold folk music in a very especial place, and people actually enjoy listening to it and playing it. Fun fact, Sambil Barquisimeto, a very popular shopping centre, won some major architecture awards and it's in the shape of a cuatro (Venezuelan ukelele-like national instrument).

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6. The multitudinary religious festival: Both cities gather hundreds of thousands of people once a year for a world-famous religious festival. In Barquisimeto, the day is January 14 and the protagonist is "La Divina Pastora", celebrated with a procession that has counted two million people; in Dublin the day is March 17 and the honoured is Saint Patrick, with a parade that's said to be the national holiday celebrated in more countries around the world (while Dublin's festival counted around 500 thousand people, NYC's had around two million last year).

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7. The obsession with traditional breakfasts: While Irish breakfast beats Venezuelan breakfast in popularity, if both were competing to determine the one that's a biggest deal to locals, it would be a tie. Barquisimetans love to have the full traditional breakfast on a Sunday, whether at home, or offered in many restaurants like "Desayuno Criollo" (creole breakfast). In both cases, it's as heavy as a lunch and then some more.

8. Big city with village vibes: Even tough they both are big cities (Barquisimeto with around one million people and Dublin with over 500 thousand), sometimes it feels like everyone knows each other and you keep bumping into people you know everywhere (I can't imagine this happening in New York, and certainly almost never in Caracas). In fact, sometimes news travel as fast as in a small town, and someone's last name is still a common way to do a mind check to search for common acquaintances (are you related to the whatever's of x-town? oh! He's my cousin's cousin!). Besides this, people actually go to city parks and squares and despite heavy traffic and busy schedules, you don't feel as stressed or rushed as in other cities.

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9. The Spire and El Obelisco: There's nothing like a tall and thin uninhabited building in the middle of city centre to say "this area is important". Dubliners have the shiny Spire, Barquisimetans have El Obelisco.

10. The people's charisma: Being fun and thinking fast are parts of both cultures. In both cities, it seems like people always have the perfect expression for something, and they're often charged with a strong sense of humour. Both Dubliners and Barquisimetans LOVE stuff that rhymes, and are quick to say a quirky exclamation when surprised or feel like someone's trying to fool them. Both are known for their distinct accent (which stands out even among people from the same country) and for making witty remarks.

Well, that's it. I don't know if it's just me, but I really believe that these two cities have a lot in common. 
Have you been in both? I would love to hear your thoughts on this over the comments!

1 comment:

ET said...
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