Thursday, December 1, 2011

aquila per la vittoria...del quarto posto

Translation: Eagle for the win...of fourth place

Fourth place.  I blame this on sabotage.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, it would be best to start at the beginning.  The palio is an age old tradition of Siena, Italy.  You know, the giant horse race that takes place twice a year and is what life in Siena is based around.  The city is divided up into regions called "contradas" and each contrada has a mascot, which range from a snail to a unicorn.  Children grow up hoping to be a flag bearer or better yet, the jockey for their contrada. 

The BYU palio is pretty much the same thing except no horses are involved.  Well, no horses in the real sense of the word that is.  Our palio uses humans as horses and Italian classes are each designated a contrada to represent.  Three students from every class would be horses and another student would be a jockey that rode piggy back.

My Italian class was given the contrada represented by the eagle or aquila.  Once I had this information I took a visit to wikipedia to find out about the real contrada of aquila.  What did I find out?  Aquila hasn't won the palio in years.  In fact, they have close to the worst statistics of all the teams.  My initial thoughts?  Great, my team is cursed, and we are going to lose, but at least our mascot is cooler than a snail.

Even though aquila is cursed, and we were most likely going to lose, we were also going to give it our best shot.  With this attitude in mind we found four students that were willing to sign the waiver and risk the possibility of getting a rug burn.  Who are these clearly courageous people?  They are three strong, fast boys and one very petite girl.  With three strong and fast boys to act as our horses and one very small jockey our odds were pretty good.  As we sized up our competition we realized we had the smallest of all of the jockeys present at the palio and horses that the other teams admitted to being afraid of.  Our odds of winning began to look better all the time.

Before the horse race began we had a banquet, took photos, and tried to out-sing every other contrada.  Which we pretty much did with the words of our inno:
l'uccello nostro
è il più grosso che nel mondo non ha eugual
chi combatte col suo rostro
presto vinto nella polvere cadrà

our bird
is the largest in the world and has no equal
who fights with his beak
won in the dust the competition will fall soon

A pretty menacing chant if you ask me.  I can honestly say that I would not want to fight an eagle, especially if it is not afraid to fight with its beak.

All of us were sporting one of the aquila colors: yellow, blue, and black.  Also, we cheered the loudest and had our very own aquila gang sign that would occasionally get thrown up.

Katie's mom kindly mind these palio scarves for us because we wanted to have what we like to call "palio clothes" and match one another.  Oh, and so that we could openly show off our aquila pride.

We then paraded around the Wilk cheering on our teams.  Turns out there were other events going on in the Wilk and everyone was apparently being loud because they told all of us that we needed to quiet down.  Were they successful in making us do so?  No, not really.  And once the horse race began it only got louder.

The horses and their jockeys were called to line up for the beginning of the race, and once this occurred that atmosphere of the room suddenly became much tenser.  The whistle blew and the horses were off.  They didn't get far before an inevitable tripping transpired, taking down several teams in its wake and leaving them sprawled upon the ground.  Aquila was one of them.

Our horse and our jockey were soon back up and in the race again, but far behind the other competition.  It would take a really fast runner to make up the loss that we had suffered, which we just so happened to have.  Our jockey hopped on to the back of our second horse and they were off.  It seemed as if you blinked you would miss them they were running so fast, passing one team right after another.  

We were just a few teams down from being in the lead with one horse left.  We passed a couple of more teams and ended up being in fourth place with istrice turning out to be the winner.  We cheered until it seemed as if we would lose our voices, and then congratulated our team when they were finished and just had a really good time being with one another as our own little Italian family.  

By the end of the night we were known as the team that was really loud and constantly kept cheering for our team.  I am very proud of this.  

So even though we didn't win first place in the race, we did win first place for being the loudest and most annoying of all the classes there.  That is what makes us better than the rest, especially you istrice.

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