Sunday, July 19, 2009

Viva la Fiesta

Well, we have survived our first village fiesta, a little tired but non the worse for that. The festivities started on Thursday morning. In the programme that was posted into each house in the village, it said it would start 'con disparos de cohetes' which I translated as meaning 'with the shooting off of rockets' and that just about summed it up. Large, very loud rockets were fired from various locations around the village. We followed the sound to one site and found one of the men from the town hall, in the middle of the street, holding a rocket in his hand, lighting it and letting it go! Health and Safety just doesn't figure in it. Sometimes they let off several together and then they did put them in a sort of frame to light them. The poor dogs wondered what was going on and they hid behind a chair, but the firings were so random, and went on throughout the four days of festivities, so we were all constantly taken by surprise. The next event was a small parade of people dressed up on stilts and wearing 'big heads'. The band led them round the streets while a lady in comic costume stood on a float and literally shouted at all the children to join in with workshops etc. .
Not a lot happens during the heat of the day so we've all tried to have a proper siesta time in the afternoons, so that we can enjoy some of the evening events. On Thursday we went to the plaza to watch a special mass at 8.00 p.m. There was an altar set up in front of the stage and lots of rows of seats which quickly filled up with adults and children, many of whom were wearing fiesta costumes, flamenco dresses etc, and they were carring bunches of flowers. Soon another volley of rockets announced the arrival of the statue of La Virgen del Carmen, whose fiesta this was. The village choir we had enjoyed so much at the San Isidro fiesta, was on the stage, and as they sang the 'congregation' lined up to present their flowers to the Virgin. Soon her platform was covered in flowers as well as a special stand next to her. The singing all through the mass was lovely. At the end, everyone collected their flowers again and followed the statue back to the church. The rest of the festivities then began.
Soon the fairground was in full swing. There was one ride that you certainly wouldn't see in a fair at home now. It was a small roundabout with six poles coming from the roof, and each pole had a small pony tethered to it that carried the younger children round and round! They were fat, shiny ponies and seemed to be very well cared for, but I still felt sorry for them in the noise and heat. The children loved riding on them though. On the plaza itself there were four large bars set up around the edge selling beer, wine and tapas, a large stage for the musicians at one side, and the rows of chairs were quickly rearranged around small tables. All the special lights were on, people were milling around and it was just a lovely, holiday atmosphere. We didn't stay to long the first night, and on the way home we stopped at a stall and bought churros to take home for our supper. Churros is made from a batter that is a sort of cross between pancake and doughnut mix. It is piped into a vat of hot oil and deep fried, and then it's cut into strips and sold in paper cones with a good shake of sugar. They are lovely when they are hot, and as we were one of the first customers, the oil was fresh and clean so they were really good ones.
Friday was particularly hot; our thermometer showed 38ยบ in the shade!; so after a quick visit to Turre for some shopping, we did very little all day. As part of the fiesta there were various games, competitions and workshops going on, but we weren't really aware of them. We had an extra long siesta. I even brought the dogs into our air-conditioned lounge for their afternoon sleep as it was too hot for them outside. Eventually I cooked a simple tea and at around ten o'clock we all had a long, cooling dip in the pool, showered and dressed up, and went to join in with the celebrations on the plaza. We enjoyed listening to the live band which, mainly thanks to a row of tall buildings between them and a good sound system, managed not to conflict with the noise from the fairground. Chris and Jonathan had a few beers and tapas while I had tinto verano or summer wine, which is a mixture of red wine and lemonade and lots of ice. We stayed until 3.30 in the morning, and when we got home, we closed all the windows to shut out the noise, put on the air-con, and went to sleep. The music was still playing when the dogs woke us up at 7.30 and when we took them for their morning walk, the last few all-night revellers were just going home.
Yesterday (Saturday) followed a similar pattern with random rocket launches signifying the start of yet another competition. I wandered over to watch one. The road alongside the plaza was taped off and lined with seating. A rope across the road had long coloured ribbons wrapped around it with just the triangular 'tails' showing. Motor bikes drove down the road and as they passed under the rope, the pillion passenger had to grab a triangle and get a ribbon. If he succeeded, he dismounted, and a pretty girl in traditional dress fastened it around him like a sash. Early in the evening there was a traditional bull fight. A temporary bull-ring was constructed on the edge of the village, and posters appeared all around the streets. Chris was tempted to go but I didn't want to, and in the end he decided against it too. I don't know how well it was supported but I expect there were plenty of spectators. We all went back to the plaza around 10.00 p.m. to watch the 'regional dancing'. I assume this was a local dance group, or something done by the school. There were lots of children from about six upwards, and some adults, and they did dance after dance for an hour and a half. The dresses were so lovely and they all enjoyed themselves so much. It was a lovely show. Then the live band were back on until this morning, but we came home around 1.30 and went to bed. Tonight is the last night, so I expect we will go down again, so I had better get my head down for an hour or two very soon. I will add a few photos on here, but there will be many more in the 'Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen' folder on my gallery. I think we are all 'fiesta-ed out' for now!

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