Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Guadalajara: Tuesday

Refreshed after some sleep and with a seemingly busy day ahead I'm up and showered early and taking advantage of the fruit and coffee at the B&B. Having made arrangements to pick up our passes from the old town the day before plans are changed again that morning and our early taxi takes us to the new pick up instead -– the MIND centre around the corner from the main FIL Guadalajara site. There we find Mabli Jen Eustace, an elfin Cardiff MET student who is creating a painting by the Wales exhibition in the foyer. She's popular with staff and visitors alike as her vibrant abstract piece, inspired by a visit to the local market and the historic old town, builds in layers. Read her blog about creating the piece and her visit to Mexico here.

Mabli gives us our festival passes and explains that the 10.30am Media and VIP reception announcing the Welsh delegation that we were heading in for is cancelled. So we grab another coffee on the cafe terrace instead before heading round to FIL Guadalajara to set up our books on the Welsh Government stand and get our bearings.

The UK Pavilion is a prominent red structure, complete with a walkway that slopes over and around the small room for talks and is closed often for noise and crowd control reasons. It draws people's attention in from one of the main entrances – a clatter of feet on boards – but the end of the walkway delivers them away, often without noticing the UK Publisher stands tucked into a discreet corner. As cultural ambassadors both John and Rebecca must be at the stand for a part of each day, so we do a shift but traffic is fairly slow. Once our stall is set up, and promo material and catalogues displayed on the pavilion's front desk, we take it in turns to walk around the gigantic site looking for potential places to make contact with and other people we know.

Trade and education titles are being pushed everywhere as it is their day today and the aisles are singing, with mariachi bands popping up for impromptu sets at stand parties. Time seems to disappear inside this aircraft hanger space and we soon find that it is time to pop back and see Mabli and then flag down a taxi to our B&B to scrub up for the evening's Welsh Reception.

I think I'm awake now

Hospicio Cabañas

Celia, Jonah, John and Mari

I'd like a dozen of these full-skirted dresses please

 Mari, Rebecca and Owen

We join John, Celia, Mari, Jonah and Hazel at a table in the courtyard of Hospicio Cabañas. It is prettily lit, with a central stage, a table where you can guess the name of the dragon and the number of sweets in a jar to the right, and the Doctor Who tardis to the left. I meet various publishing and literary Brits, including Cortina Butler, Literature Director from the British Council but I don't spot any other UK authors. Another Welsh author, Owen Martell, joins us and there is dancing (on stage) and later dancing (off stage at another party) where the beer, tequila and mescal flows freely.

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