Those hugging, high-fiving teams became an awe-inspiring constellation of balance and strength and determination and beauty. High above each human obelisk was a child, a little girl, standing tall, arm extended above her, proud to be held aloft by her cast of supporting actors and actresses. Actually, they were more like stuntmen and stuntwomen than actors and actresses.
So many arms and hands at the base. Holding up. Pushing. Bolstering. Sustaining.
And all the while, the entire group of people was in motion.
I found my eyes kept falling to the bottom of each tower. I watched those hands, those arms, quivering but strong. Some hands grasped the thighs and legs of the lowest rung on that human ladder. Some hands hold those arms aloft. Still others held onto the waists and shoulders of the people whose hands were more directly involved in the ascension. Only four people were visible in the air, but thirty or forty made up the entire casteller team.
After each team made its entry into the plaza, they began to form larger pyramids. Instead of bases of one person held up by thirty people, they began with bases of six or seven people with fifteen or twenty people in supporting roles. Then more than one person ascended to the top. Two tiny girls would scamper up the backs of their teammates, cross over each other's backs at the top, and then slide back down. It looked like great fun - for the tiny tots. Every one else seemed to be straining and holding on for dear life.
One of the most daring configurations involved starting at the bottom. The first team member to appear above the crowd was the tiniest one. She sat patiently on the shoulders of the two people below her.
Then an entire level was pushed up beneath her. Clinging to the leg of someone on that level was another small child.
The crowd gasped as yet another level appeared - fully formed. Then the girl holding on to the left side of the rising tower climbed to the top, crawled around the shoulders of the one already up there, and both came sliding down - a lot like firemen descend the pole in a firehouse. Breath-taking.