Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014; Week 18

I am late posting again today because I have been on a fabulous outing, which I will tell you more about later. I wanted to share it today because I am off to UK again on Monday, this time for the happy event of our grand-daughter's wedding, so I won't be posting again until Friday 16th.

But first, here are some of the positives that I have to be thankful for this week, and my Friday Smile which is one of the photos I took today. It is a smile for me, because whenever I see it I will remember what a good time I had. Basically it is me saying 'Hello' to a well-dressed horse. You will have to read on, further down if you want to know more. And here I will just say how grateful I am to all the friends and family who read my posts each week, and to those who leave me lovely comments. I do apologise for not replying to many of them last week. This was down to a recovering eye that meant that my computer time was limited, and the fact that I had to concentrate on a few other tasks before my trip to UK. I will do better this week.

1. The laser treatment for my eye was successful and not too stressful. I was told to 'sit still and not move a muscle', and folk who know me, will know that I can't do that for five minutes, let the alone the twenty that the treatment lasted for, but somehow I managed. And I can now see a lot a better. A Big Thank You to all who sent me good wishes for this.

2. Despite needing to rest my eyes regularly, and use drops that sting and make my eyes water, I have managed to complete the four main projects that I wanted to finish to take to UK with me. Two are for the wedding so I will be posting about them on my craft blog after the event.
3. The young man who is house/animal sitting for us while we are away, has visited twice this week and the dogs seem to adore him, so we are very happy with arrangement, and won't need to worry about them or the cats.
4. I am hoping to have another cat when I return home! I had told my vet that I didn't want to know about any more abandoned animals needing homes unless she ever got a long-haired ginger cat. I have always wanted one, but so far one hasn't crossed my path. Well you can guess the rest - Yes. I had a phone calk this week; "Kate, guess what has just arrived at the surgery". It is a beautiful long-haired ginger tom, or he will be beautiful soon. He was found in a drainage pipe, and right now he is smelly, his hair is matted, and he probably has a few unwanted visitors attached. But while I am away, the lady who found him is fostering him, and she will have him sedated, bathed and shaved, and treated for any parasites etc, and when I get back he is moving in with us. My other cats won't be impressed and Kim will think he has a new toy, so there are some fun days ahead, but I can't wait to get him here.

So now to our day out. I warn you that this is going to be quite long and photo heavy, but I hope you will find it interesting.

Today we went on a coach trip to the town of Caravaca de la Cruz, which is about an hour and a half's drive from here, inland from Lorca. It is the fifth 'Holy City' in the world, so named because of a famous cross in the sanctuary there, which has a double cross bar, and is said to contain a fragment of the actual cross carried by Jesus. You can read the legend surrounding this on the internet.
But today we went to see the Running of the Wine horses. This legend is worth repeating so here it is, (a direct copy from the net).
The town passed to the Knights Templar who, in the 15th century, built the castle that still dominates the town today. At one time, the Knights Templar and townsfolk were under siege by the Muslim army and took refuge in the castle. It wasn't long before the water stored in the castle became unpotable and several of the refugees became ill. Scouts crept out of the castle at night to look for water but found the neighboring wells had been poisoned. In desperation, the scouts raced out of the castle on horses to find a safe source of water. They found some wine, loaded the wineskins on their horses and raced back to the castle. The wine was blessed in the presence the Caravaca Cross and served to those who had been debilitated by the bad water. They recovered immediately and the blessed wine was mixed with the toxic water in the storage tanks. The water became fresh and as a result, the Christians were able to resist the enemy.

When we arrived we saw lots of horses in the street, all dressed in beautiful mantles and ornaments. Each horse is owned by a collection of friends known as a peña. 

The ladies of the peña work all year to raise money and to make the mantles. Some are sewn with real gold thread, and many are covered in jewels and hand-painted portraits of the patrons. All the horses had their tails bound and decorated, mostly with coloured woollen pompoms, but I was amused to see that some had bath 'scrunchies' instead.

Everywhere we looked the people were wearing red
neckerchiefs, many just bearing the name of the fiesta, but others were embroidered with the name of the peña they belonged to. Even tiny children were wearing them. They are born into a peña, so grow up with it as part of their heritage. Not wanting to be left out, we bought a neckerchief too and wore it all day. It was very useful to keep the hot sun off the back of my neck!

We walked up the main street and then on up a steep hill as the local folk told us it was too dangerous to go any higher on the main road as the horses might charge! At the top we stopped to take a photo of the crowded street we had left behind. You could say there were a fair few folk there! There was a continuous noise from many bands all playing different music at the same time, lots of shouting and cheering etc. The music was used to excite the horses which were called by name and they then ran up the road to the top while the crowds parted - sort of -  to let them through. Each horse was followed by a crowd of its peña members, and its own band. There were sixty horses all taking part. It is quite a dangerous affair and there was a fleet of ambulances on stand-by. We saw one incident when a charging horse knocked some-one over and the ambulance came to take them away. 
We melted into the crowd and went with the flow,
and along with hundreds of other people, horses and musicians, we eventually ended up in a big plaza that was blocked at one end, except for an archway through, buy  an imposing building which was the town hall. There was a balcony along the width of it where the town dignitaries stood to watch.

We found a good vantage point and watched as the horses cantered up and down, each one had its own few moments to 'show-off' and then it was judged. I understand that prizes were awarded for the best dressed horses. Each one was again followed by a band, and then there was a parade of followers in the costumes of the Moors and Christians whose battles were being celebrated. Each had its own 'King and Queen' who wore fabulous costumes that draped right down over the horses back. The materials and embroidery were stunning. Here are a few photos from the parade.
The 'King and Queen' of the Christians.
The 'King and Queen' of the Moors.
This was so beautiful!
Just one of the many bands.
Fun costumes. The lime green sun-glasses didn't quite 'go' with the rest of his outfit!
I bet you've always wanted a pair of boots like this?
By the end of the parade we had had enough sun, noise and excitement for one day so we did not continue up any further, but chose to walk back down to the plaza where we found some seats in the shade and enjoyed a long, cold drink while we sat and watched the people and horses who were still milling around down there.
Had we gone on upwards we would have come to the place where the running of the horses goes up a notch. Each horse has four runners holding onto its head and sides, and in turn they run up the hill as fast as they can. The spectators fill the areas and it has become almost a dare to see how  long they can stand there before they part to let the runners through. The run is timed and it is a great honour to be the fasted team. A horse is disqualified if it does not cross the finishing line with all four runners still holding on. They often get knocked over by the spectators, or they just can't keep up with the horse, but a runner has been know to break down in tears because he has fallen, and 'let down' his team. This is a very dangerous event and there are a lot of casualties. We decided to watch it on the big television screen at the bottom, but I am sure we will go again one year, and maybe next time we will venture up to the top. We watched one horse on the television that was so over-excited, the men just could not control it, It was rearing up into the crowd, and knocked down part of the barrier. A few of the people from our coach did go right up but they only stayed for the first few runs, not all sixty of them! This photo is taken from the internet to show one of horse-runs. That time the crowd did part enough to let them through, but they are still very close if the horse decided to bolt.
Healthy and Safety rules mean an event like this would never be allowed in UK, but it was exciting and fun to be there, and we had a great day out. I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me.
Now I just need to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Celtic House, and then I am off to bed for some well-needed sleep.


  1. It looks like a fantastic day out, lots of colour and excitement.I'm glad you are happy about the man who going to look after the animals for you. Fancy a long haired ginger cat becoming available just when we were talking about it last week. I hope he soon settles in with you. Have a good journey on Monday and enjoy the wedding.
    Jean x

  2. How interesting to read your post about another local tradition. Life really is an adventure for you, Kate.
    Have a wonderful trip to your grand daughter's wedding and i look forward to seeing some photos on your return.
    Jo x

  3. Those are definitely some well dressed horses. Some were stunning, in fact. And there was SO MUCH red. Very impressive use of the kerchiefs. Happy belated Friday Smiles. Those horses such did the trick for me!

  4. Should have read "sure" did the trick.

  5. What a stunning and colourful post! Thanks for sharing. Have a happy smiley weekend! x Jo

  6. What an amazing fiesta...the decorations on the horses are amazing! Thanks for the smiles. Caro x (#12)

  7. Wow - what an amazing time, the horses look fantastic, I love love love all the work that is put into these events that you get to see. It really is a fabulous insight to your world over there. I hope everything goes really well with the wedding etc and can't wait to see the photos when you return. Hugs

  8. Wow Kate. What wonderful photos you have shared. Sorry I am late! It was worth coming though.
    Glad to hear you did well with your eyes and long may they improve.


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