Cristina is from California, she is 26 years old. She got to Barcelona 6 years ago and found out about castellers 3 years ago in a small town called Berga. She was working there for a year as an English teacher, and the host family that she was living with took her to practice with them for her to try it out. She spent a year with that team, and now Cristina is part of a different team, in the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona.
What impacted her the most was how close-knit the teams are and how much time everyone spends together outside of castellers. In fact, they even have a different word for it: “colla”, instead of “team”. In Catalan they differentiate between the word “team” (as in a sport’s team) and “colla” (for cultural activities like castellers).
Cristina´s position in a castle is a “crossa”, or “crutch” (yes, like crutches if you break your leg!). Each person who has everyone from the trunk of the castle on top of their shoulders has two “crutches” (me!) to help them hold up the weight. Depending on the castle, She is a crutch in the base (called a “pinya”, with the feet on the floor) or in the second base (called a “folre”, with the feet on someone else’s shoulders).
To highlight something about castellers, she would say if you put in effort and good sportsmanship, the colla will give back so much to you; She would say even more than a regular sports team. It’s such a tight knit community (but anyone is welcome!) and once you’re integrated as part of the team it’s really amazing how much you can get out of it.
For Cristina, castellers has led to a much deeper integration into the Catalan culture and community. It’s also allowed her to perfect my Catalan, which has been immensly helpful in her masters and with her internship!
Thanks to castellers, she feels welcome and immersed in the culture here. She is abroad alone (she doesn´t have any family members in Spain) but She feels like she has a strong support system here regardless! “The colla is my family abroad” 🙂
“Without a doubt, I recommend visiting Barcelona and a casteller practice because it’s a REALLY cool traditional activity they do here that’s unlike anything else in the world. The pictures don’t always do it justice; seeing it in person is really amazing. If you come early to practice, you can try it too!”