First of all I am smiling because our friend Annie is feeling a lot better and was able to post her Friday Smile this morning. So here is my smile for this week. I saw it on Facebook and it immediately made me smile. I am sure all the crafters among you will smile too.
I am sure for most of you, Christmas is well and truly over now, but out here in Spain we are only just 'packing it away' because our main celebration took place this week at what we in UK know as Epiphany, but here it is simply called Los Tres Reyes, or Three Kings day. It really starts on the evening of 5th January when the Three Kings arrive in towns and villages, much as Santa does in other countries. In some of the larger towns it is a very grand affair, but in our little village it is a more modest occasion, with a single float, decorated differently each year, which travels around the streets to very loud music.
The kings' helpers throw copious amounts of hard boiled sweets to the folk lining the roads, and it is a mad scramble for the children to see who can collect the most. At the plaza, the kings sit on their thrones while the young children go one at a time to read their letters to them.
For many of these children, this is a request for a special gift. They will have received a stocking of small items from Santa on Christmas Day, but their main present will come from the kings on this night. Others, whose families are less traditional, will have received their special present at Christmas, but they will still have three small gifts, one from each of the Kings. I have no idea how they deal with these differences amongst themselves, but we see children who are all excited, and who are equally happy with their gifts, what ever they are.
After the letter reading, the kings again get into their float, and travel around the streets, delivering parcels at specific houses. (The parcels are left at the town-hall by the parents on the previous day).
Being a relatively small village, the Kings will know most of the families, so delivering the parcels poses no problems. The kings are then taken back to the plaza where they sit in a big marquee and give out more presents to the children waiting there. Again I do not know why some are given one way and some another, but some of the families in the marquee will have been from the outlying areas, and other small villages that come under the umbrella of Los Gallardos, which are too far away for the kings to visit. But there were some local children there as well.
Also on this night, it is the start of the medieval market, but only on a small scale, because the real fun begins the next morning.
At around 11.00 on Wednesday 6th January, we had the usual volley of very loud rocket bangers, that are always used to open a fiesta. They went on for ages and are dogs, especially Miki, are terrified by them. They signal that the market is open, so once they had finished banging, and we had settled the poor dogs down, we wandered over to the plaza. It was another absolutely beautiful day, with warm sun shine meaning most of us were in tea-shirts with no coats. This was our seventh Three Kings fiesta and every one has been sunny. Various people from the village dressed in elaborate costumes and re-enacted the scenes at King Herod's Palace. The Kings arrived to ask where the new baby who is born to be king, might be found.
King Herod sent them away to search and then commanded his soldiers to also search for the baby.
After the play there was an open air mass on the plaza.
All through the mass the music was provided by the village choir, all in appropriate costumes, and they sounded wonderful.
At the end of the mass, anyone who wanted to, went forward to kiss the baby Jesus, held by the priest.
We were then entertained by a small band who played happy music, for a happy occasion. There is always a wonderful atmosphere at this fiesta and many folk say it is their favourite fiesta of the year.
As with all our fiestas, food plays an important role in the day. This man is making a large paella, which I noticed was all sold a few hours later.
His friend was in charge of the barbeque. It does look good doesn't it? We had some of the chicken and it tasted as good as it looks.
The rest of the bar was lined with jugs of sangria and bottles of wine, and plate after plate of potatoes, hot, green peppers, ham and other delights.
Meanwhile, over on the small plaza next to the marquee, a giant pan of migas was being prepared. This is not the most popular dish, especially with the non-Spanish folk, but it is very traditional, and is always made at this fiesta. It is basically a pan of water and oil brought to the boil and then bags of flour are added which immediately forms lumps. These are chopped up as they cook, and then handfuls of salt are thrown over it, followed by whole cloves of garlic and little sausages. It is served with bundles of broad beans - which are eaten raw - and cherry tomatoes. It is dished up free, to anyone who joins the queue, and there are plenty of folk around here who are grateful for a warm and filling meal.
And of course, to go with the food there was plenty of choices of drink. We started with little cups of strong, sweet, aniseed liqueur, which is offered to anyone who buys raffle tickets for the ASADIS food hamper. It is a local brew which I love.
Next we stopped at a Portuguese booth where Chris had a glass of reserve port. I had hot white wine with pineapple, walnuts, ginger and herbs. I like mulled wine but I have never had white wine heated up before, and it was delicious.
Later we stopped at the Moroccan tent, and here Chris is waiting for two glasses of hot, mint tea. Although it is really sweet, it makes a lovely, refreshing drink.
There were lots of artisanal stalls selling everything from leather wrist bands, to aloe vera cosmetics, lots of styles of jewelry, loose herbal teas, and various cakes and sweets. I bought a pretty necklace, Chris bought me a red leather cat purse that took my fancy, another crystal to tie in my window to make rainbows, and together we chose another painted tile to hang in the porch, by the one we bought last year.
At one point, I felt someone was watching me! Isn't he beautiful.
I made a new friend called Milo.
I fell in love with all that white fur, and he was so gentle, and was happy to pose with me for a photo. He is a Pyrenees mountain dog, and he scored big points over a St Bernard for me because he didn't slobber!
Filled up with good food and drink, and tired from walking and standing all morning, we found a place to sit and listen to some beautiful pan pipes, played by one of the local Ecuadorians. This man had a wide variety of pipes, from these huge ones down to a tiny one, and he got lovely music out of them all.
Then it was time to wander back. The sun was still shining on us, and this is the view we had of the lovely Cabrera mountains, as we made our way home after a really enjoyable day.
I hope you enjoyed sharing our fiesta with me. According to our town hall, this fiesta is almost unique in Andalucia, which is why we get a lot of visitors to it from other villages, where it is just a bank holiday with no shops and few bars open for them.
I have probably rambled on enough for this week. But there have been a few other occasions that have made me happy and grateful. My car broke down on the way home from church last Sunday. I thought it was the same problem as I had last time, so rather than call the recovery vehicle again, I phoned Chris, and a kind friend lent him her car to come and rescue me. We knew how to do a temporary repair to get us home, and today our mechanic friend has fixed it, so we have it back for this weekend. Many thanks to Ali and to Andy. We do have some lovely friends out here.
I am a warmer-blooded person than Chris and my craft room is on the warm side of the house, while his office faces the other way, so he has already used his fire a lot this year. But up until now I haven't needed mine. However, it can get very cold once the sun goes down and one evening this week I decided to turn mine on for a while and found it was completely dead. Chris tried to get it going but he couldn't either, so yesterday he bought me a new one. Isn't he kind! It is a little halogen heater and they are very efficient for warming a small room. Today I haven't turned it on again, but I am sure I will need it before the winter is over.
One other thing that made me happy this week is that my church decided to give a large donation to Cati for ASADIS, and I was asked to act as courier, so yesterday she came to my house to collect it.
She is so very grateful for the way the English people support her work with the disabled children in the village, and it is nice for me to see the children benefiting from the money we give.
So I will now leave you with some lovely sky photos. the sunsets have been gorgeous this week, and I couldn't decide which I liked best. So I am going to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World at Celtic House, and then I shall just add all the photos and you can choose for yourselves which you like best.