Thursday, 31 March 2016
Shocking Incident in Casarabonela.
Jesus de las Torres
If anyone thinks that spending long periods of time in Andalucía is all fun, fandangos and fiestas, think again.We've only been back a week and I've been electrocuted, Mrs.Sanchéz is walking on crutches, Tommy is lovesick again and to cap it all the roof is leaking.
All this during Semana Santa (Holy Week) too. It's enough to try the patience of a saint and there's no shortage of those round here at the moment.
The trip down here went without incident. We went to the right port this time and were welcomed aboard by the friendly and helpful French crew. Tommy was pleased with his 'pet friendly' cabin and his complimentary bag of doggie goodies.
The 'Cap Finisterre' is a recomissioned Greek ship which still bears signs of its previous life plying the Aegean. The catering is not as good as on the 'Pont Aven' which was a pity as we could have done with beefing up a bit for our obligatory two hour stint on the oars.
The 'Cap Finisterre' leaving Portsmouth
The entertainment on board was top class. We won first prize in the 'Music Quiz' with a little help from a Geordie couple who let us keep all the prizes; two Brittany Ferries pens, a pack of Brittany Ferries playing cards, a mini Toblerone and a Brittany Ferries notepad. Tommy was dead jealous, I can tell you. All he got was a bit of rope, a Brittany Ferries collapsible dog bowl, a bag of dog treats, two bones and some Brittany Ferries poo bags.
Mind you, the poo bags came in handy when Mrs.S had a spot of seasickness in the Bay of Biscay.
We arrived in Álora on Palm Sunday in the rain, just in time for the first procession of Semana Santa to be cancelled. It would have been La Pollinica (Jesus on a donkey) but the rain would have spoilt the the costumes and it's a bit dangerous carrying a heavy throne with a man, a donkey and Maria Santisima del Amparo Auxilidora on it through wet and slippery streets.
La Pollinica, just before being rained off.
We arrived to find our street clear of parked carsso we pulled up right outside our door and started a leisurely unloading of all our stuff as wet, downcast disappointed donkey followers trudged back from the church, their Domigo de Ramos ruined. We expressed our deep sympathy as we took our time transferring our worldly goods to our Spring Residence.
'¡No hay mal que por bien no venga!' (Every cloud has a silver lining).
Semana Santa in Álora doesn't really get going until Thursday and then we have two solid days and nights of processions and the local Mercadona supermarket closes its doors as a mark of respect. All the bars stay open for food and drink and even a few impromptu 'pop ups' appear, run by enthusiastic and devout Holy Weekers who can't see why a silver lining shouldn't follow a cloud of incense.
As most of the processions pass by our front door Mrs S.and I feel very involved in it all. It's a good time to meet and wave to all our Spanish friends as they file by in long robes and hoods, some with pointed 'capirotes'. We're not always sure who is waving.
We were lucky to have English friends staying with us who had never seen Semana Santa in Southern Spain before (apparently they don't bother with it much up north). They were very impressed by it all and are talking about starting a few processions in Dudley when they get back.
There seem to be more pointed hoods every year. Strangers always find them fascinating and alarming. Apparently if you still think of the Ku Klux Klan when you see them you're still a tourist.
Nuestro Padres Jesús Atado a la Columna
Jueves Santo (HolyThursday) and Viernes Santo (Good Friday) were beautiful sunny days. Smiles shone from all Perote faces, especially bar owners and the stalls selling drums. In my opinion there is nothing quite so endearing as to stand next to a little kid with a new drum.
Drums form an essential part of the processions and the children of Álora whose parents can not afford to buy them use 15 litre plastic paint buckets which are just as effective in spoiling an otherwise peaceful Spring evening. I don't mean to sound grumpy, after all these kids don't have chocolate easter eggs or bunnies to look forward to on Easter Sunday or hot cross buns on Good Friday. They have to be content with drums and the two big army processions which are a star attraction on Thursday and Friday.
Soldiers and drums- what Easter's all about, after all.
This year the Legión came without their goat mascot but a little boy dressed as a soldier stood in. The Legión are paid to appear by the Dolores Hermandad and the Paras, who do not look nearly as fierce, are paid (less) by the Jesús Hermandad. Both groups put on a bit of a show which always includes chucking their rifles around in the crowded streets. This year a new stunt involved getting a volunteer to kneel down while they chucked rifles over her head.
I wonder if they have to take out Public Liability Insurance.
All this theatrical stuff, although very entertaining, is just a 'warm up' for the big event of the day, the Despedía (farewell) which happens 'a las 14.00 aprox' in the Plaza Baja de la Despedía, built 400 years ago just for this purpose. There are only two bars in the Plaza Baja which make more money on Good Friday than during all the rest of the year. A rainy Good Friday spells disaster, penury and on one occasion, suicide. Luckily the good weather held and at about 3 o´clock Jesús y Dolores performed their world famous 'dipping' manoeuvre (La Despedía) before an ecstatic and widely inebriated audience.
La Despedía 2016
We watched from a safe distance.
Mrs. Sánchez is hobbling about with a walking stick after slipping in some loose stones up at the Castillo de la Estrella in Teba. Regular and attentive readers may remember this as the place where Sir James Douglas threw the heart of Robert the Bruce into the attacking Arab army a long time ago. The heart can be seen at Melrose Abbey in a lead box. Some tidy-minded soul must have found it after the Battle of Teba (1330) and sent it back to Scotland.
Finally, an update on Sánchez Olive Oil Enterprises SA.
Our oil is proving popular with the discerning public of Birmingham, UK ,From Our Trees To Your Table . and the trees are looking set to produce another fine crop of olives. All will depend on the weather when the flowers open and, as always, on how much rain we get before the summer drought sets in.
We went up to Olivar Caicunes the other day to look at the trees and to see what work needs doing. We were greeted by a friendly horse and an electric fence across our entrance disguised as a piece of string. Shocking!
Our new neighbours denied any knowledge of the ownership of the horse but helped me to de-activate the booby trap. What a cheek!. The third shepherd we tackled admitted that the horse was his but said that he had permission. How did he undo the padlock on the gate?
'Well, everyone round here has a key to that.'
This weekend they are having an 'Egg Weekend' in Casarabonela.
Juanito Sánchez 31st. March 2016