Friday, 5 June 2015

Y Viva España. Dancing, walking the walk but no singing.

                        The Great Lisbon Earthquake 

On 1st. of November 1755 a  powerful earthquake hit Lisbon. It would have measured 8.5 to 9.0 on the Richter Scale if it had been invented and it destroyed most of the city, causing fires, a tsunami and the deaths of between 10,000 and 100,000 people. 
The shock wave was felt as far away as Finland and North Africa. A ten ft. tall tidal wave hit Cornwall. The  shock wave reached Álora 471 km. (293 miles) away and many people believe that the Lisbon Earthquake was responsible for the collapse of the central section of the old parish church which is up by the castillo.
María José who runs the Álora Museum (well worth a visit) assures me that the church had already been destroyed by the 1680 Málaga Earthquake and the relatively new Iglesia de la Encarnación in La Plaza Baja  was not affected by the 1755 one.
                                  Charles III of Spain

Around this time, Charles III of Spain sent a young aristocratic soldier , Juan Martín Alvarez de Sotomayor to Prussia to learn about Prussian military tactics from King Frederick II who was a good pal of Charles III, very fond of music  and good at fighting battles. Frederick took such a liking to Juan Martín that he wrote a tune for him. It was a march called 'La Marcha de los Granaderos'.(The March of the Pomegranates). Young Juan liked it so much he gave it to King Charles who made it the National Anthem of Spain. It still is, but nobody thought of writing any words to it so it remains one of the only four national anthems that you can't forget the words to. The others are from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo and San Marino which aren't real countries anyway. That story is widely believed by as many people who think that Y Viva España is the Spanish National Anthem. Both are  not true, although Y Viva España was a big Belgian hit for Sylvie in 1974 and has unforgettable words in English, like 'If you want to chat a matador' and 'Snog señoritas by the score'. It's very popular in Spain too. The Perotes (Áloraneans) love it and sing it at every opportunity and, as it's a Pasadoble,  they can dance to it too. In Spanish it's called  España la Mejor and was a hit for Manolo Escobar, also in 1974. Apparently one of Franco's ministers suggested using the  'España la Mejor' lyrics with the national tune. Many modern Spaniards thought that was a great idea. Franco died the following year.
The real Spanish national anthem is now called La Marcha Real (The Royal March) and the point of all this is that at the Copa del Rey (King's Cup) final the other week, which was won by Barcelona and played at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, there was loud booing and jeering from the Catalán crowd when the Marcha Real was played over the loudspeakers. The Cataláns take every opportunity to assert their nationality but this was very rude indeed, especially as Real Madrid, Spain's second national team lost the match, are out of the Champions League Cup and Barca ended up top of the Spanish Liga.  Perhaps if there had been some words to sing nobody would have noticed the Catalan Cat Calls but everyone, including King Philipe III, did and he's very angry. New laws have been proposed to stop people booing and jeering. If you clicked on the link you would have heard  La Marcha Real played with lyrics. This is part of a competition currently running to find suitable words for the anthem. If you want to enter, all you have to do is send your suggestions to me with a 20€ handling fee and I will forward it to the king.

                                Dancing a Sevilliana

On the subject of dancing,  I went with Mrs. Sánchez for a Sevilliana lesson last week. This is the dance that people do at the ferias, verbenas, romerías and all the other public festivities. It looks easy, especially the male part which just consists of twirling your arms and body and looking Spanish.Take a look at this Sevilliana.
See what I mean. Any fool can do that.  There were six of us including me and a 10 year old girl and the lady in charge said we were all beginners and I would soon pick it up. I won't be going back. 'Beginners' has a different meaning in the flamenco context. All the Spanish people  here have flamenco in their blood. They know all the complex rhythms, when to stamp, when to twirl and when to say Olé. They learn it in the womb.
She taught us how to play the castañuelas (castanets) too. That's not too hard but you have to do it while twirling your arms around and nobody tells you when to stop. Mrs. Sánchez had a great old time. I've noticed that she is watching sevilliana lessons on YouTube so it looks as though she will be going back for more. (alone).


Mrs. Sánchez (on the right) dancing an 'alegría'.

As a punishment for my lack of commitment to flamenco I had to agree to walk the Caminito del Rey which regular readers of this organ will have heard so much about. Sally and Mike had two spare (free) tickets so off we went. I don't want to put you off, especially as it´s still free, but I found it a bit scary to begin with. They've stopped the buses that take you back to where you started 2 hours before so we had to do it twice, there and back.

                    Mrs. Sánchez on the wobbly bridge.

It's a fantastic piece of work and was completed in only a year. The views are absolutely stunning and there's a bit where you can stand on a glass plate and look down into the deep chasm below. I managed to do this on the way back but next time I'll take some Windolene as the glass gets a bit dirty with 400 people a day standing on it.

 The Malaga to Córdoba train line goes through the mountains and you catch glimpses of it speeding through gaps in the tunnel.

                           A gap in the railway tunnel (you can see a bit of the caminito halfway down on the right).

The security guard at the southern entrance said that El Caminito de Rey is currently the second most visited  tourist attraction in the world. Hmmm. They'd better get some proper toilets if they want to get to Number One.

Beer enthusiasts in Álora may have noticed a 'new kid on the block´ Many of the bars are now selling  Victoria beer with its very distinctive and much loved logo.

It's an old Málaga brand which was first produced in1928 and appeared for sale on September 8th. which is the day of La Virgen de la Victoria in that beautiful and atmospheric city. Coincidentally September 8th. is the day of Álora's patron virgin La Virgen de las Flores too, but she doesn't have a beer named after her.
Victoria beer (5.4%) was very popular in the 60s and 70s at the height of el boom turistico. In the 1990s the brewery and brand was bought by Cruzcampo who sold out to Heineken who flogged it to the Catalán company Grupo Damm  which now brews it  in Murcia.
I wonder if all the Real Madrid fans happily downing ice cold Victoria beer in Los Caballos Dos know that they are drinking a  Catalán product. Should we tell them? !Qué va!

Juanito Sánchez

June 5th. 2015


  1. "Sevilliana. Any fool can do that." We know you'r no fool so we would expect you not to be able to do it! Envious about the camanito walk. I look forward to seeing your photographs.

  2. Comands or sends cocks? Eh?