Today is the saint's day for San Isidro who just happens to be the patron saint of our little village of Los Gallardos, (and of several other villages around here) so what better excuse for a party! The celebrations started with some local musicians walking round the streets followed by a Mass at 12.00. It was supposed to start at 10.00, but that was 10.00 Spanish time which bears little resemblance to anything on a clock or watch! We were a bit confused as we walked up to the square in front of the church around ten, only to witness a funeral. The 'hearse' was silver grey, not black, and it was covered in flowers. A huge crowd of villagers walked behind it as it wove its way through our narrow streets and it took us a few minutes to realise that this was not part of the San Isidro parade! Out here, when someone dies, the funeral is usually held the next day, so this unexpected service was probably part of the reason for everything else being delayed.
Anyway, we found a shady spot to sit and wait and gradually we saw folk of all ages arriving for the mass. Most noticeable were a lot of ladies all wearing beautiful red dresses with layers of flounces around the hem, red and white spotted boleros and a large white rose in their hair. They were very striking, and they turned out to be a choir who did all the singing throughout the mass. They were joined by just a few men also wearing a costume of grey striped trousers, black jackets, white shirts and scarlet cummerbunds. There weren't many men but you could certainly hear them when they joined in the singing. It was lovely. We stood at the back of the church through the whole mass. I shall add a short video at the end of this to give you a taste of the music. It is a rubbish video because I was trying not to film the mass, which didn't feel appropriate, but if I turned right away I lost the music, so close your eyes and just listen!?
During the mass a small cart arrived outside the church, pulled by a brown mule. The cart was decorated with flowers and palms, and carried the statue of San Isidro, who apparently is also the patron saint of farm labourers. After the mass, this cart led a small procession of some of the choir ladies and some villagers, a couple of the guardia, and us tagging along behind. A man from the town hall came up at the cross roads and gave everyone a straw hat, which we were happy to wear for the rest of the way. They may not look fantastic, but they are light and cool and keep the sun off your face. We went through the village, out on to the main road, under the motorway and on to the Los Gallardos sports centre. We knew this existed but we weren't sure where it was. It is situated half way up a hill beyond the top end of the village, on the other side of the wide dry river bed and the motorway. We watched the final of a football contest between various teams from the village. The heats were during last week, and today was the final with the winning team being presented with the 'San Isidro Trophy'. What an uncompromising piece of ground to play football on, but what a backdrop of trees and mountains!
After the football came the 'gran paella' that had been bubbling away behind us throughout the match. It was beautifully done, and in keeping with the farming theme it had a bowl of flowers in the centre, and a ring of fancy-cut lemons all around it. It was free to anyone who was there so we decided to stay for some instead of going home for lunch. It had all sorts of tender meat in it and some fish, and it was delicious. We then took the shorter route home across the rough ground, had a much needed cup of tea and a quick swim to revive us, and then enjoyed a lazy afternoon.
The real party is tonight, and guess where the venue is/ Calle Mayor. That's right-our street! The top end of the road has been cordoned off and decorated with strings of bunting and lots of lights, and a big stage has been constructed across the width of the road. There will be music and dancing but it doesn't kick-off until ten o'clock, so it is going to be a long and noisy night. But you know what they say, "If you can't beat them, join them", so we'll be there, and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.