Last night I went back to the Festa di Santa Marta, at the far left corner of Venice. I met up with Jo’Anna, my Dutch classmate, and we had long conversations about architecture, writing, stress (and how to have less of it), and Venice, while swatting away the mosquitoes.
What a lovely bunch of people live in the Santa Marta neighborhood! It’s a local festival, all put on by volunteers (much like at San Giacomo dell’Orio). In the little campo, ringing the picnic tables, they had set up clothes lines with shirts and hoodies and shoes clipped upon them. There was a wonderful white Indian shirt I was coveting, so I finally asked how I could pay or donate for it. The young woman at the cash desk said that it was a barter system; I could leave something in exchange for it. But I had nothing with me! I don’t think they wanted my shopping bag, and I didn’t want to give up my journal. Maybe strip off my shirt and leave it there in exchange? But the woman assured me it was okay to just take the shirt.
A traditional rowboat pulled at the canal, and a group of young men got out and unloaded bins of fresh vegetables. When I picked out a cucumber and some potatoes, the curly headed guy in the red shirt said, “It is a gift!” This was also a donation system, I suppose, so I handed him some coins and he smiled. Though I spoke to him in Italian (wanting to practice the language), he kept answering me in English, saying that he wanted to practice too!
There seems to be a higher than usual percentage of dreadlocks in Santa Marta, and not just because the DJ was spinning reggae. The same crowd had been out when I was there a few days ago. It seems that Santa Marta has quite a young and alternative population, though happily all the over fifty crowd came out as well, many of them getting up to dance to the reggae.
By 10:30 or so, the reggae guys handed over the turntables to the techno crowd, and a drummer set up to play alongside the trance sounds. People kicked off their shoes, dogs ran around the crowd, and everybody danced, including me. After many songs, I thought I had had enough and walked away, but as I got to the bridge and looked back at the campo full of dancing people, I had to go back for a little more.
Thank you, Santa Marta, for the hospitality, the shirt, the vegetables, the wine, the smiles, the music, and the dance.