One of the unexpected parts of my trip to Barcelona with easyJet was the organised stumbling upon a Castell. (The easyJet orange T-shirts gave away the organised element.)
A Castell, literally meaning "castle" in Catalan, is a human castle and as health-and-safety-defying as it looks it is a proud tradition among many communities in Spanish Catalonia with competitions held regionally and nationally. Teams, or "colles castelleres" are usually formed of families from a village making the "sport" one of community, teamwork and trust.At a time when most communities are sheltering their children more and more, it was both shocking and enlightening to see these people send their smallest child members of the team to the top of the human tower. It is of course logical. The broader, stronger members of the team stay below and the lighter, more nimble climb to the top, wearing helmets, thank God.
Watching a little closer it was clear to see that safety wasn't thrown to the wind in a stereotypical Spanish gust. Quite the opposite, as the safety of those climbing to the top was everyone's top priority as they grouped around the human foundations up to seven people deep providing additional support while a few stood back on all sides, starring intently upwards with arms ready to catch.The real hope and charm was to be found in the children. They clearly loved their pivotal role in the Castell and the all-encompassing concentration on their faces showed how seriously they took it.After watching a few human towers go up and come down, it became clear how the audience's reaction differed from when the structure was being built to when it was dismantled. As the human tiers were created the anticipation and anxiety filled the air as hands were raised to mouths and the mothers in the crowd winced as the children started to climb up. Then once the tower and their accompanying band, which provided a traditional but still tension-building soundtrack, reached its climax the sound of applause released everyone's anxious energy and fears like a big "phew". However, stay focused on the human tower and you can see no difference in the faces of those who must now climb down; they concentrated as much on getting down safely as they did getting up. I'm sure there's a life lesson in there somewhere.The building of Castells is a tradition that has been handed down orally from generation to generation. There is something quite heart-warming about this in a time when children rely more on the internet than parents for answers to their questions.
Thank you easyJet for choosing to organise this activity, but most of all "gracies" to the Castell builders I watched who taught me all sorts of lessons about building castles metaphorically and literally.
Disclosure: Bird was travelling with easyJet as part of their Southend Bloggers Competition for a trip to Barcelona, which you helped me win. So thank you to you too.
Frances M. Thompson
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