Sunday, January 9, 2011

Red sky at night - shepherds' delight ..

... or in this case, three kings delight. Around teatime on Wednesday I noticed that my room was taking on a rosy hue and looking out the window I saw a beautiful sunset. By the time I had found my camera and got outside, the sky had changed from a lovely golden peachy colour to fiery reds and oranges, and a few minutes later, it was all gone. It's ages since we had a sky like that. It was the night of the arrival of the Three Kings, so I hoped the lovely sunset was heralding good weather for the next day, when our village has a little fiesta.

On Wednesday night we walked up to the village square to watch the kings arrive at the plazza, and to see the children being given their gifts. It's not so different from our children visiting Father Christmas except there is no entrance fee, and the gifts have been provided in advance by the parents. Many of the children will have had a stocking from Santa with small gifts in it, on Christmas night, but this would be their main present from the kings. Some Spanish families are adopting our ways now. When we walked up the road on Christmas morning we saw a little Spanish toddler riding on a new battery-driven tractor, but many stick to their old traditions, which, to me, make a lot more sense anyway. (They came bearing gifts etc!). The giving of the presents takes place in a big marquee erected for the fiesta, and then there is music and dancing throughout the night. Out on the street there was a medieval market and lots of food stalls. The word fiesta is synonimous with food and music out here, and they do it very well. Just look at this circular barbeque. I took this picture just before we went home to bed, but the man assured us it would all be eaten that night! And see the pile of bread he has prepared to go with it. You got one of those huge, doorstep slices with four fat sausages on it, or half a rack of ribs. It looked lovely but we weren't tempted to try at that time of night.

The next day we headed into the village again for the fiesta. I won't go into too much detail here as the emphasis is on Tradition so each fiesta is very similar to the one last year. But there were a few changes. Apparently in order to save money, the kings arrived on horses instead of the usual camels, which wasn't quite so dramatic, but they looked very fine all the same. The market had more stalls than usual, and someone said they thought Turre had joined with us instead of having one of their own. There were several craftsmen working. I was particularly taken with this man who was using old spoons to make bracelets. We also had a mini zoo with a tent full of reptiles etc. We didn't pay the euro to go in, but I did spend time talking to the lovely falcon perched at the entrance. There were also small pens of chickens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl, and a huge turkey who obviously escaped the fate of becoming someone's Christmas dinner! But my favourite animal was a very young donkey, seen here with his mother. He was so soft to touch. Wouldn't mum have just loved him? After the usual play about Herod's meeting with the Kings at his palace, there was a children's theatre session run by one man. He was fantastic with the children coersing them into taking part in his play, whipping costumes on and off them, and all the time keeping up a running commentary in Spanish and broken English, and, yes, that really is a live rat sitting on his head throughout the whole thing. He had us all in stitches - not just the children.

At around 2.00 there is always free food for everyone and this year, instead of paella or migas, it was a huge tortilla. They had to break a fair few eggs to make that didn't they? I was impressed at the way they managed to get it cooked through just right, without any of it getting burned, and that's over a wood fire, not a hob with heat control knobs! When it was ready they cut it into thick slices and put it in a big, fresh bread roll. I couldn't manage to eat all of mine, and I hadn't been sampling all the other foods on sale throughout the morning. Most of the stalls had been very busy but everyone still tucked into their tortilla with relish. Even little children were given the same huge portions. Things slowed down after that but it still kept going until mid evening. Then the market packed up and by next day everything was gone, so we are back to normal now until the next fiesta which is the Andalucia day carnival mid-February! I'll put the rest of my pictures in a folder on my gallery, so feel free to have a browse on

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