Albuquerque Day 3: Orientation & Welcome

Today was made up of so many different episodes that it feels like a couple of days have passed. Here goes:

Nick and I rolled out of bed just in time to make the breakfast buffet. While seated, Catherine, who found my blog while Googling information about the Festival, came to our table and said, “I recognized you!” Sounds funny, but it wasn’t quite that random. We’ve been corresponding for weeks now and had been planning to meet up.

Later she and I made a run to Target/Kohls/Whole Foods for some necessary supplies:

Flamencos gotta stay hydrated, you know.

It was after 1 when we finished shopping and we decided to make a quick stop at Chipotle for lunch to take back to the hotel. So, I thought it was a little lame for us to want Chipotle when we could get awesome green chile and sopapillas, but whatever, we needed food quick. Turns out everyone in Albuquerque was at that damn Chipotle and the line was wrapped around the store. Uh, no thanks.

We drove off and pulled over at Taco Bell, just as two women with a SCREAMING kid were getting out of their car. I made a lighthearted (I promise!) wisecrack about somebody needing a spankin’ or a nap until it hit me: That was no ordinary scream.

As I was ordering, some patrons behind me were making comments about the child needing discipline. The boy’s grandmother tried to explain that he can’t help it because he is autistic and non-verbal. She burst into tears and I felt compelled to hug her and let her know we understood. We stayed and talked to her for awhile … I think she was relieved having people listen and empathize. I really did feel for her, as I know others who have dealt with similar issues. Catherine suggested maybe we weren’t meant to go to Chipotle; I think she’s right. Funny how things work out and you end up where you’re needed most.

Fast forward. We race downstairs to get a hotel shuttle to UNM, but after nearly 30 minutes, none were available. So we drove to campus, praying we’d find a parking space nearby and — score! — we did.

We made it in time for half the information session. As we tiptoed in and found seats on the floor, I saw a big smile and wave from across the room: my Canadian Facebook buddy had spotted me!! Cyrena and I have been corresponding since last year after meeting sort of because of this blog, and then trading Festival stories. I was so excited to finally meet her in person!

We took care of some business and chatted with familiar faces. Ran into the great Vicente Griego, my cante teacher, who greeted me with a warm hug. Also stopped to chat with Eva Encinias, with whom I took castanets last year. I asked her if we could take a photo because I didn’t get one last year. She’s such a sweet lady.


Now, between official business, meeting new friends and catching up with old friends, we hit up the festival boutique. Um, yeah … I scored. Seriously. In heaven. But that’s a whole nother post. Think “Married to the Dance: The Festival Fashion Issue.”

A nice little reception followed and I sat at a table with Nick, Catherine, Cyrena and her friend Elvira, and also (let’s see if I can remember), Suzanne, Lucia, Gary and Carol. Ran into Anabel and her daughter Eileen, and also Tray from last year. I also had a long chat with Emilio in the hotel lobby earlier. Hey, I’m getting good at names! And hey, I have a lot of friends! Yay!

I introduced myself and my brother to Joaquin Encinias, and let him know Nick has NEVER danced. He reassured me he’d be OK in his Beginner Intensive Workshop. As we were talking, I was surprised by my classmates Karan and Astra, who appeared fashionably late to the event. How very Spanish of them. Torrance in the house!! Students of Rina Orellana, represent-represent! Ha ha!

What a fun party!! I wish I had more photos to share but weak wifi/3G drained my iPhone juice. Damn. And it was such a great photo op day.

OK, friends, I’m butt tired and I need my rest. Festival begins tomorrow!!

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