There is a door, in an empty street, in a quiet town, on a cold night. There is no sign, but the open doorway is lit and the faint sound of music and the smell of smoke drift warily out into the chill night air. There is no one around, yet the door beckons welcomingly.
Inside, there are so many people that it’s hard to move. Old photographs hang on the wall, documenting the most important moments in Santiago’s history. And also, people making funny faces. Witches hang from the ceiling, a reminder of the enchanted beings that still roam the Galician forests and still prey upon unsuspecting bar patrons every once in a while. The sound of merry voices drifts up from below.
Down underneath the bar’s calm upper facade is a stony basement blurry with smoke and thick with noise. Wide wooden pillars are intricately carved with celtic knots and symbols, and coins are wedged between the stones of the walls – a good-luck charm in Santiago. People of all walks of life are coming and going and leaning over the bar, which is stacked with unmarked green bottles of homemade liquors. In one corner, a band is playing traditional gallego music, similar to Irish music, with guitars, mandolins, flutes, an accordion, and any part of the body that can be used as percussion. A tambourine makes its way around the room, changing hands, yet somehow always keeping the rhythm. People clap or tap along to the song, and the band itself changes hands as members come and go, without a pause in the music. Some dance, a traditional gallego dance, in the middle of the floor. Whenever the spirit strikes them. It makes me want to dance, too.
This is life.