Elizondo. In the morning the street is full of monstrous dwarves putting on their make-up milling around a glass table laden with bottles and cakes. All head, supported on tiny human legs and arms, they have difficulty in walking in a straight line. Their faces permanently contorted into an ugly grimace, they are frequently invited to Pyrenean carnivals.
Towering over them, a quartet of elegant giants dressed in medieval costume is practising swirling dance steps, skirts flying wide showing frilly underwear. The cabazuelos and gigantes are papier-mâché cartoon characters.
The last time I was here there were only two giants: Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Aragon, the reyes católicos. I ask a man supervising the operation who the other two are.
“Enrique II and Margarita de Orleans, the king and queen of Navarre. They’re new.”
“It must be a lot of work.”
My helpers are milk
“We’re a team,” he explains. “Mis ayudantes son la leche – My helpers are milk.”
He says it with great gusto. I search for a translation: crème de la crème?
I walk further down the street and stick out my thumb. After a few minutes a bunch of kids comes running past, as if the gates of hell have just opened, fleeing marauding dwarves. They are followed by the giants waltzing in a stately fashion, and I have to move progressively further down the street until they all turn into a housing estate and leave the main road free to traffic.