March 9, 2012
The young men in the photo above are stick dancers (pauliteiros in Portuguese). Kat and I saw them perform in the city of Coimbra in Northern Portugal. They perform a dance, dança dos paulitos, accompanied by a small band which you can hear in the audio clip. This type of dance has many relatives throughout the world (here are video clips from France, England, Spain, and India). There is just something about the rhythmic clacking of sticks that screams street festival.
Why do the young men have smiles on their faces? Because I'm not in their troupe. This type of dance requires a combination of rhythm and hand-eye coordination that is not in my genetic code. This was well documented in my career in little league where I never managed to get a hit.
If I were to attempt this dance, there would be much yelling and cursing from my fellow dancers, as my stick connected with flesh rather than wood. My partner would be the one with swollen knuckles and bandages on his head.
There is slightly less pain in the world because I took up bicycle touring, rather than stick dancing.
You can read about our bike journey in Northern Portugal in this month's edition of Adventure Cyclist magazine.
Photo by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.