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Interview with Consuelo Amessa

Amessa, Consuelo
Valladares, Evelyn
Date of Interview: 
Cultural idenitification
Consuelo Amessa talks about being a dancer and living in the US for 41 years after Spain
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Evelyn Valladares interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
EV (Evelyn Valladares): This is Evelyn Valladares. Today I am interviewing Mrs. Consuelo. Today is the tenth of June of 2004 and it's four-fifeteen in the afternoon. Good afternoon, Mrs. Consuelo, how are you?
CA (Amessa Consuelo): Very well, and you? Good afternoon.
EV: I want to thank you for your time and for all of the information you are about to give us about Spain.
CA: You're welcome.
EV: Mrs. Consuelo, what part of Spain are you from?
CA: Uh, from Madrid, \\ the capital-. \\.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: -Of Spain.
EV: OK. And your parents are also from Madrid?
CA: My parents, they were really from Castilla, and I say they were because they are de-, dead, but my parents were not from Madrid, they were from Castilla. My father was from Valladolid, to the north of Spain, and my mother, err, from Guadalajara, to the east of Spain, Guadalajara, Spain, not Mexico-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: \\ -Yes. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: Uh, it's Castilla.
CA: \\ Yes. \\
EV: \\ And \\ how long have you been here in Charlotte?
CA: I have been in Charlotte exactly for 41 years. \\ [Laugh] \\
EV: \\ OK. \\
CA: Yes.
CA: Not in Charlotte. Well, 30 years in Charlotte-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -In this country, the United States, 41 years, but we have traveled around Texas, we have lived in Florida, in California, and many other places, if I tell you all of the places we have been to, there will be not enough tape, so-.
EV: \\ Of course. \\
CA: \\ -I'd better \\ leave it up to here. \\ [Laughs] \\
EV: \\ Well, \\ Mrs. Consuelo, tell us a little bit about Spain, about its history, its customs, its music, its traditions.
CA: Well, the history of Spain begins, if we go very far back, around 30 thousand something years ago, when the Iberians came to Spain, who came from the North of Africa, going through the Strait of Gibraltar-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -So they settle in certain areas of what today is Spain, and centuries later, we don't call them years because at that time that term [laugh] didn't \\ exist-. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: -The Iberians came, then the Celtic people, and when they got together, we can say so, they formed the Celt Iberians, later on the Phoenicians came, together with the Carthaginians, Greeks, until the Romans came and they all formed a city, at that time Spain still didn't exist, they formed a Roman territory in its entirety.
EV: Uh-huh. That means that \\ there was-. \\
CA: \\ ( ). \\
EV: -A lot of, a lot of, uh, a mix of cultures-.
CA: \\ Oh, a lot. \\
EV: \\ -And also \\ of languages, right?
CA: A lot, totally-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -Totally, totally, that's why Spain in rich in music, because of the so many different migrations of people, Spain is rich in music, gastronomy, uh, they even enriched many other cultures. Later on the Arabians came and dominated Spain for 800 years-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -But then the Catholic kings came and threw them out in 1492, which was the year when the Americas were discovered-.
EV: Uh, OK.
CA: -They threw the Arabians out of Spain, but Spain has many treasures, regarding architectural structures, uh, customs, uh, it's just wonderful.
EV: You can see the Arabian influence especially in the \\ music-. \\
CA: \\ The music, \\ totally.
EV: -Even an African influence, \\ right? \\
CA: \\ Tot-. \\
EV: In the \\ south part. \\
CA: \\ Yes, \\ totally. The Flemish music, we could say, from the south part of Spain, has a lot of Gipsy influence, but it is completely Arabic in nature.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: It is completely Arabian, and they leave many architectural treasures, in the south of Spain, for example, we have the fence of Granada, the Cordova mesquite, all that, er, it's beautiful.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: The Arabians settled all over Spain, except in a region from Asturias, to the north, in the Cantabria, because it is an area with many mountains, they could never get there-.
EV: Of course.
CA: -Perhaps they never knew that those people were there, or whatever, I don't know who lived in there, but due to the mix of all those cultures that I mentioned and that, the only place the Arabians could not get to was Asturias.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -But the Romans and the Arabians left many treasures-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -So, it's very beautiful, and they also gave us their music and customs, but as I told you, they were thrown out of Spain.
EV: And you were telling me about a dialect that it is not now spoken in Spain.
CA: Well, in reference to the dialects and languages, there are four languages that are spoken in Spain, they are the Basque, the Catalunian, the Galician, and the Castilian, there are two dialects that people still speak, which are the Valencian, comes from the Catalunian language-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -It is spoken a lot, and the Mallorqui, which is spoken in the islands of Spain, now I will tell you something about the islands, but there is one dialect that you asked me about, called bable-.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: \\ -It is, \\ we could say, in extinction.
EV: Oh, \\ what a shame. \\
CA: \\ -Because \\ it is a language, a dialect that is not spoken at all.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: Maybe the landlords in small towns and so, but it is almost gone.
EV: I think it is spoken in a very small area, right?
CA: Yes.
EV: Of some province?
CA: A region.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: \\ In \\ Asturias.
CA: Yes. And, regarding what I have told you [interruption]. In reference to the islands, as I mentioned to you before, Spain has several island, they are the Balearian Island, in the Mediterranean ocean, then we have some islands in the coast of Africa, in the Atlantic ocean-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -And then towards the south of Spain, in the coast of Africa, because, as we know, Spain is very close to Africa-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -We are just six hours apart, going by ship, which is the time it takes to cross the Gibraltar Channel-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -And those islands are very beautiful, in one of them people speak a dialect called the Mallorquean-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -They are islands visited by many tourists, specially an island called Ibiza-.
EV: Ibiza?
CA: -Which is what young people die for.
EV: Uh-huh. Why? Is it all virgin, the beaches?
CA: No, no, no, no, no. It is very much populated, like the rest of the islands-.
EV: Oh.
CA: -But it has many discos and you can see all kinds of people \\ ( ) \\
EV: \\ Ohhhh. \\
CA: -And they get naked, they ( ), \\ the youth-. \\
EV: [Laughs] That's why they like it so much-.
CA: \\ Yes. \\
EV: \\ -Young \\ people.
CA: Of course, of course. I have seen discos in which they use lots of soap, and people can hardly see each other-.
EV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CA: \\ -Because everything is bubbles and bubbles, \\ it's crazy.
EV: How uncomfortable, right?
CA: Bubbles, well, it is crazy.
EV: Yes.
CA: And young people, well, crazy things, crazy things. Of course, where people have the most fun is in Madrid, at night, people say that Madrid is the best place in the world to have fun.
EV: Uh-huh, yes. I was told that people in Madrid, start having dinner very late at night.
CA: Yes, yes. People have dinner at 10 or 11 at night.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: And if you want to go to the theatre, because it starts at eleven-thirty, then you have to have dinner in a rush-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -Because, if you want to be at the theater on time, and after the theater, people go to discos to dance, we have fabulous discos and people are very happy people, specially young people, who are the only ones who can live that kind of life-.
EV: Yes.
CA: -Because older people, I could not do that now, but of course, young people, uh, they can be up all night long-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -I was even told that they are kicked out of the discos at seven in the morning so that they can clean the place and then they can go in again, and people have asked me, when do people rest in Madrid?
EV: [Laughs].
CA: That is, I don't know, I really don't know, I have not gone through the experience of staying up all night to dance.
EV: \\ Yes. \\
CA: \\ I \\ like to dance a lot, but I don't like that kind of madness.
EV: Of course.
CA: [Laugh] Perhaps I would have done it when I was young, but not now.
EV: And I suppose that people are used to that way of living, right?
CA: Yes, completely-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: \\ -Completely. \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: Yes, yes. It's crazy, but-.
EV: Of course.
CA: -It's their way of living. And, of course, foreign people come here. That's why Spain is the country with the highest number of tourists-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -From all over the world-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -In the past it used to be France and Spain.
EV: Is Madrid a very expensive city-.
CA: Very expensive.
EV: -Compared to, uh, the rest of Spain?
CA: No, the rest of Spain is the same.
CA: Let me tell you that, uh, regarding shows, uh, restaurants, is not, let's say, so expensive, there is something for everyone, that's the truth-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -There are very expensive restaurants, where a meal could cost you 300 dollars, or so-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -But there are restaurants where you can get less expensive meals and everybody can go to.
EV: Of course.
CA: There is, er, however, housing is very expensive Spain.
EV: Oh.
CA: In Madrid, in Barcelona, in Sevilla, in the big cities-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -And also in the small cities.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: It is incredibly expensive. I could say maybe three or four times more that here in the United States.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: Of course, we are comparing everything to Charlotte.
EV: Of course.
CA: Now, we need to compare it to New York.
EV: Which is also very expensive, uh-.
CA: \\ Very expensive. \\
EV: \\ -The cost of living. \\
CA: In New York. But in Spain, housing is very expensive.
EV: Mrs. Consuelo, what made you come to this country?
CA: Well, that's a good question. 41 years ago my husband signed a contract for six months-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -That's why I stayed in Madrid with my children-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -But then they extended his contract, I mean, he got a contract in Florida, Tampa, Florida, so when we saw that he had to stay here for a longer period of time, he told me, "Get your passport ready, we are going to stay here a little bit longer." He was supposed to come here just for six months-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -That's why I stayed in Spain, and those six months turned out to be 41 years.
EV: Wow.
CA: [Laughs].
EV: [Laughs].
CA: And we have traveled through, I tell you, Texas, Laredo, California, uh, we also went to Canada, we also went to Spain and came back here, to Charlotte, North Carolina, Tennessee, Phoenix, Arizona, and we stayed here for good because my oldest daughter got married in here-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -And then she had the baby girl, my granddaughter, and it was logical that I didn't travel anymore.
EV: Of course. And before that, you were telling me that you were a flamingo dancer for many years. Did you do that before you got married?
CA: \\ Yes, yes. \\
EV: \\ Or, or-. \\
CA: \\ Of course. \\
EV: \\ -Or after that? \\
CA: Before-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -When I was a little girl, I was about 16 years old, I went to an academy in Madrid, uh, I was studying classical Spanish dance.
EV: Uh-huh. Did you attend that a academy because you wanted to?
CA: \\ Oh, yes, of course. \\
EV: \\ Or because your mother \\ told you to?
CA: No, no, no. It was against my whole family-.
CA: -Against everything. \\ [Laughs] \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: Because my life was to dance, I don't know why, it's a curious thing-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -But let me tell you, nobody in my family liked to dance. They didn't know how to dance, either. I don't come from a family of dancers, or musicians, or anything like that-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -I don't know how I got into that, but ever since I was a child I really liked flamingo dancing, which originated in the south of Spain, in Andaluc in Spain-.
EV: Ohh. He doesn't want to come here?
CA: He lived here, he went to school here, but his wife could never adapt to here-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -And they went back to Spain for good. \\ ( ) \\
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: He is in Madrid, but my heart is with them, too.
EV: Of course.
CA: That's \\ how it is. \\
EV: Do you travel to Madrid from time to time?
CA: Of course, yes.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: \\ Yes. \\ We go to Madrid and we travel around Spain to visit our family, we also visit other places at the north and south of Spain, during out trips, I have got to know Spain better now than when I used to live there.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: \\ Of course, \\ when I used to live there, imagine, I have been here for 41 years, like I told you, I have lived in Venezuela-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -That means that I have lived more years outside Spain than in Spain-.
EV: Of course.
CA: -And I have not lost my accent.
EV: I don't think people lose it that much, \\ do they? \\
CA: \\ No, \\ uh, there are many people who do.
EV: \\ Really? \\
CA: \\ They \\ kind of forget the words, uh, and such, but, when I go to Spain, I ask my family, do I have a weird accent?
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: Not at all, it seems as if you have never left.
EV: \\ [Laughs] \\
CA: \\ Yes. \\ [Laughs] I swear to you, because I like it a lot-.
EV: Of course.
CA: -The language-. \\ ( ) \\
EV: \\ I think that the Spaniard \\ accent is very beautiful-.
CA: -And it's very strong-.
EV: Yes.
CA: -That's why it's hard to lose it. The interesting thing is that we are always amongst Argentineans-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -Because my husband is Argentinean, he's got many Argentinean friends, they are also my friends, and we do gatherings, conferences, and we have met other Argentineans, and I spend a lot of time with them, well, not every day, but on the weekends-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -So, sometimes I try to imitate their accent, as a joke, but I have not got their accent-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -People in Venezuela also have a strong accent, and I lived there for five years, and \\ I never got it, either-. \\
EV: \\ You didn't get it. \\
CA: -So, I don't know, \\ [laughs], I don't know. [Laughs] \\
EV: \\ Well, but \\ that's a good thing, right?
CA: Yes, \\ yes. \\
EV: \\ That you \\ still have it-.
CA: \\ Yes. \\
EV: \\ -Always \\ with you.
CA: \\ Yes, \\ dancing and my language.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: I always have them inside of me.
EV: Uh-huh. Don't you think you will teach Flemish dancing anymore?
CA: I have been teaching Flemish dancing lessons, but, I don't know about now.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: It's very good because you do exercises.
EV: Of course, and it keeps your blood circulating, \\ right? \\
CA: \\ Yes. \\
EV: All the time.
CA: It's like aerobics-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -We could say.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: Because in Flemish dancing, as you have noticed, you have to use your feet a lot-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -And that moves all of your body-.
EV: Uh-huh.
CA: -Sometimes I teach classes, but, I tell you, sometimes I don't have any students, sometimes people call me, but I don't feel like teaching.
EV: Of course, you have to feel like-.
CA: \\ Yes. \\
EV: \\ -Teaching it, \\ right?
CA: Yes.
EV: It's like anything else.
CA: Now, if I go to a party, I am the first one to start dancing-.
EV: Of course.
CA: -Not Flemish, because in \\ family gatherings-. \\
EV: \\ They don't play it. \\ Uh-huh.
CA: -They don't dance to Flemish music, you dance to salsa, merengue, uh, tropical music and all that, see? In any case, I am the first to dance-.
EV: \\ Of course. \\
CA: \\ -[Laughs] \\ Because I love all kinds of music.
EV: And that keeps you in good health \\ and-. \\
CA: \\ Yes. \\
EV: -In good shape \\ and also in a good mood. \\
CA: \\ Yes, that's the truth, \\ that's the truth, yes, yes.
EV: Well, I am very thankful for the time you have given us to do this \\ interview-. \\
CA: \\ Oh, you are welcome. \\
EV: -And the truth is that you are a very beautiful person-.
CA: Thank you very \\ much. \\
EV: \\ When I met \\ you over the phone and now in person.
CA: You are, too.
EV: Yes.
CA: You are a very beautiful person, yes, yes. Er, and well, I think that's all-.
EV: \\ Uh-huh. \\
CA: \\ -I have \\ told you a little bit about my life, about the history of Spain, tell me if you want to ask me \\ something else-. \\
EV: \\ Well, I think that \\ we are getting short of time, but I want to thank you again for all of the \\ information-. \\
CA: \\ You are welcome. \\
EV: -And your time.
CA: Like they say in English, anytime.
EV: OK. Thank you.
CA: [Laughs] Bye, bye.
EV: So long.
CA: Bye, bye.