Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fiestas and Flowers

Hi. Once again I have left it a whole week before blogging, so I have too many topics to tell you about. After that long missive last week I was determined to do entires more often so they would be shorter. But I have just realised that I haven't even covered last Saturday's mini-fiesta yet. It was San Isidro's Day, and as he is the patron saint of 'workers on the land' and the second saint of Los Gallardos, there was, of course, a good reason to have a fiesta. As this is the second time we have been to this fiesta, and the format seems to be the same each year, I won't go into too much detail here. It was a lovely day and we went up to the little church at the top of the village at 11.30 and sat in the back for the mass. The singing was done by the village choir and it was beautiful. I tried to record some on my phone so I could give you a taster here, but it seems that now I have had my English phone unlocked to take a Spanish pay-as-you-go card, the extra features on it, such as the camera, are locked. So the video is still on my phone, but I am unable to load it onto the computer to share. After the mass, we all joined a small procession of local horsemen There was only one last year, but this year there were quite few. They had beautiful animals. One was white and she had a little brown foal with her. They were followed by a small cart pulled by two shiny black, stocky little ponies, and then the cart carrying the statue of San Isidro. It was decorated with palm branches and flowers, and was pulled by an old grey mule. Most of the choir followed along. Last year they all wore flamenco-style dresses in bright red with white spots, but this time they each wore a different colour and looked very bright and gay all together. We joined the group of villagers bringing up the end of the procession and went on what is know as a 'romeria', which means a walk and/or picnic in the country. We only walked as far as the sports centre at the top of the village, just on the other side of the motorway. There we watched the final of the inter-Los Gallardos football league, and then went to talk to the horses. The two little ponies spent hours running round and round the pitches, giving cart rides to all the children. Many families had taken their own picnic with them, but there was also a 'Grand paella', free to anyone who wanted it. I went up to watch it being cooked and one of the men handed me the long ladle and invited me to give it a stir. Later we got to eat some, and very nice it was too! We walked back home for a rest in the shade after lunch. That night there was music and dancing at the end of our road. We went up at midnight, just as it was geting going (!) and we stayed until 2.00am, and then we went home to bed, but the music was still going when we got up at 7.00 the next morning to take the dogs out. I don't know how many people last the whole night. When I had my hair cut this week, I asked my little hairdresser if she did, but she said, she only stayed until 4.00 but her sister stayed all night.

Here are another couple of flowers to show you. The first is of course morning glory, and how well its name suits it. Isn't it just glorious? Every morning there is a new crop of these flowers all over the fence across the road from us. I pulled off a long trailing stem and stuck it in a pot to see if it will take. I'd like some of that on our fence. Out in Thailand, morning glory was a very popular starter in many restaurants. It appeared to be a mound of the leaves and vines, just steamed, but we didn't try it. They didn't, as far as I know, eat the flowers. I'd rather look at them anyway! The second picture is the flower of the prickly pear. Most people associate them with the cartoon of jungle book, and consider the fruit to be of little use, but they grow everywhere here, and the fruit are sold in the market. An old man in Cyprus showed me how to tackle one without geting a hand full of thorns, but I don't remember how it's done. They have these beautiful flowers on but they only last for a day. This one is at the bottom of the orange grove next door, and I just happened to notice the flowers were out as I was hanging out my washing, so I took a quick snap. They had mostly gone again by the evening. Here they are commonly know as 'chumba' and are not very popular too close to houses as they are thought to attract mice, and possibly rats.

And speaking of unwanted visitors near the houses, here is one that was foolish enough to stray onto our patio yesterday. He was a good four inches long and facinating to watch. He wriggled along at a fair old rate, curled and uncurled himself, and was just as efficient moving forwards or backwards. I am wary of anything yellow and black, (the biology teacher I used to work for told me those colours were a warning to birds to leave them alone), so I took a few photos and then we swept him away. I looked it up on the web and it turned out to be a Megarian banded centipede 'which packs a powerful and potent sting in its front feelers'. So I'm glad I resisted the urge to touch it. It said they can be from 10-20 centimeters long so this was a fairly small one, and I gather they are fairly common in Andalucia. If he has any sense he won't come back, because I might not be so kind to him next time.

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