Yes; It's festival time again. The 28th February is Dia de Andalucia, which commemorates the day in 1980 when Andalucia became a recognised independent community. It is made up of a lot of provinces, including Almeria and Granada, and it's capital is Seville. All over the area, this special day is celebrated with a carnival, which seems quite strange, occurring as it does, right in the middle of Lent, and this year, on a Sunday too. But that did not deter them. I went to church as usual in the morning, which meant I came home around 1.30 and then started cooking a traditional roast dinner. (I'm not Spanish enough to forego the Sunday roast yet!) While it was in the oven I wandered across the village to see what was going on. I knew the village choir had been singing earlier and I would have liked to have heard them, but the carnival won't be on a Sunday next year and hopefully they'll sing again then. The big marquee used on Three Kings Day was again erected on the area at the back of our house, and when I got there I found three rows of trestle tables set up down the whole length of it, with chairs packed along both sides of them and around the walls. The tables were filled with plates of meat, ham, sausage, black pudding etc, fish, salads, crisps and nuts, and lots of rough country bread. There were bottles of wine and glasses of beer, continuously being refreshed by a tribe of waitresses, and it was just a free-for-all; in other words, a bit of a bun fight, but everyone was just there to have a good time, and the atmosphere was great. I could have eaten there, but knowing my dinner was in the oven, I refrained, and went back home for a while. At 5.00 we both went back over to the plaza for the carnival parade. I don't know where all the people came from, but the whole place was heaving. There seemed to be groups of people with themed costumes who, I presume, each represented a club, or one of the surrounding villages that all come under the umbrella of 'Los Gallardos'. We have a fairly large contingent of South Americans, mainly from Ecuador, living at the top of the village, and they wore lovely colourful clothes. There were also many individuals wearing costumes, or just wigs or face paint. It seemed like everyone wanted to get in on the act. I particularly loved all the little children, right down to babies who had fancy dress on. It would seem that Spanish men enjoy the opportunity to 'dress up' as they had by far the most outrageous costumes! Some costumes were very elaborate and must have taken many weeks to produce, while others were little more than lengths of cloth wrapped or draped around the people, but they all added to the overall effect. There were several bands playing and everyone was dancing, stopping regularly to swig from bottles; your guess is as good as mine as to what was in them. The whole event was an experience in colour and noise, and having fun, and we loved being a part of it. There are more carnival images in my gallery on picasaweb.com.
So, today is the first day of March, and we have enjoyed a beautiful sunny day. Because the fiesta fell on a Sunday today is a holiday too, so there are no shops open, but the bars and restaurants are of course open as usual. So after walking the dogs, Chris and I drove down to Mojacar and strolled along the beach. I even got my feet wet in the sea, but this wasn't intentional! Fortunately I had taken my shoes off when the wave caught me, and the sand was so warm underfoot, that I was soon dry again. We then wandered back to our favourite beach café for our elevenses, before driving home for lunch. We ate out on the porch and it was so warm and nice, I stayed out there to do some sewing, and have just come in now because I was getting too hot! They are forecasting light drizzle again tomorrow but we will wait and see. Our weather seems almost harder to predict than English weather, and the forecast can never be relied on.
It is now a year since we took the keys to our house, and this time last year, we were in UK tying up the loose ends and arranging for our furniture to be shipped over to us. One of the first blog entries I did from this village was titled 'March is yellow', and although this is only the first day of March, already it is turning yellow. All over the campo where we walk the dogs, bushes of broom are full of buds and they are just starting to open. I have seen a couple of mimosa trees in bloom, but the yellow seen everywhere is the very acid yellow of the oxalis which is endemic to this area of Spain. It grows along every road, in every garden, and is rampant under trees, especially citrus trees. I read somewhere that it is allowed to flourish there because when it dies down it feeds the soil and the trees benefit from it. This is a photo of the orange grove next door (What a difference a couple of weeks makes Jean!). It is almost like the bluebells in an English wood, but a far less peaceful colour. Other wild flowers are opening everywhere, the birds are twittering like there's no tomorrow, and on the campo we could hear a wild bees nest buzzing into action. This is a lovely time of year to be here. Look at these photos and I think you will see why, when asked on my UK break last week, "Do you have any regrets?" I answered with an emphatic "No!"
And finally, what is probably the penultimate photo of the roadworks. Our road is now almost complete. We think it will be one-way traffic when it reopens for cars to use. Our side of the road is a parking bay, and small bollards have been fixed all along the edge of the pavements to prevent parking on them. This is good, as it would have been easy to drive on them as they are on the same level as the road, just a different colour bricks. So at least we will be able to park outside the house soon, which will make it easier for unloading shopping etc. All the new lights are in place, and the drainage trench that ran right down to the bottom of the village has tarmac on it. There is loose sand over the surface at the minute, which they are compounding to fill between the bricks, and there is still a lot of builders 'rubbish' to be moved before the road can be used, but we can see an end to the work at last. As we walked home from the carnival there wasn't a soul in sight, so I snapped this shot of our peaceful street. Looking good, isn't it?