Another busy week has whizzed by. The children have all finished school so the village seems busier, and we are now in full fiesta mode. For the actual village it started last night, though the main events are over the weekend, ending with the big mass and floral display on Monday. But up at Llanos, where my church is, the fiesta was last Sunday. Our church was originally a little catholic chapel for the tiny village of Llanos del Peral, and the surrounding villages. They now only use it for 'funerals and fiestas', and I guess most are now mobile enough to go to the bigger towns around if they was a regular church service, so we now have regular use of the building, which also acts as a village hall and meeting place. But it is understood that that the local people have first use of it, so on the rare occasion that one of their fiestas lands on a Sunday, we do our best to keep out of their way. On Sunday we had been informed that there was a fiesta in the close-by village of Alfoquia and they would be arriving up by us around 1.00, so we made sure to finish our service in good time and had a very quick time of refreshments and chatter afterwards. My friend and I moved our cars a short distance away, and stayed around to take some photos.
The village folk had been in the day before and put beautiful flower arrangements in the church. They are especially nice as we rarely have 'real' flowers as they just don't last in the heat. It was very hot standing waiting for the parade, but there are a few trees to give some shade. Before long we heard distant music and the first horse riders appeared, closely followed by a van pulling a decorated trailer.
The caballistas, or horsemen, love to dress in their traditional costumes, despite the fact it was around 35º, and it must have been so hot for them.
The trailer was carrying the statue of Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of Alfoquia. This village is just too far away for the people to walk up to Llanos, so they arrived in a convoy of covered wagons, horse-drawn carriages, or else they came on horse-back. And as the modern meets the traditional, the last few were in cars!
In these more rural areas of Andalucía, horses are very important, and many children learn to sit on a horse as soon as they can sit up, and while still quite young, they are competent horse riders. So, for them, it is traditional to arrive at a fiesta on horses.
There was an air of fun and happiness as the folk called to one another, and the colourful wagons collected on our now empty car-park.
When everyone had arrived, they again set off, this time to the local fuente - fresh water fountain, a kilometer or so further along the road, where they would enjoy their picnics, and then return to the church for the patronal mass in the afternoon before processing back to their own village, probably for more partying well into the night.
Meanwhile we have watched as lights have been strung across the streets in our home village, fair ground rides have rolled in on big lorries, and been erected on the flat land across the green zone from our back yard. The temporary bars have been set up around the main plaza, and today they will be building the stage on the plaza where the bands and singers perform from 11.30 at night, until around 7.30 the next morning. (It is the only time all year when we sleep with our windows firmly closed. Thank goodness for ceiling fans and air con!).
Following our usual adage of "If you can't beat them, join them", we will be wandering over each evening, to enjoy the dancing displays, and a drink on the plaza surrounded by our neighbours, all in fiesta mood, and when we have had enough, we will go home and sleep through the rest of it.
The worst part of fiestas for us are the loud, loud, rockets that are sent up in volleys at random times throughout the next four days. There have been four lots this morning as I sit writing this, and there is not even much going on yet. The dogs hate them, though I must say, Kim doesn't seem as bothered this year, but Foxy has spent all morning hiding behind the settee, and she will probably stay there all day.
During all this excitement we were again at the airport on Wednesday to pick up our son Jonathan and his wife Ella. It is four years since they were out here last, so it is really nice to have them here again. This is son number four who is a drummer in several heavy metal bands. He has been over in several European countries, including Spain, touring with his main band, but of course, they go to the major cities for their gigs so we have not seen him on those occasions. It is a year since we went to UK for their wedding. How times does fly!
They spent what was left of Wednesday, soaking up some sun and dipping in and out of the pool. Yesterday they walked along the beach in the morning and in the afternoon I drove them up to our municipal swimming pool at the top of the village. It is huge and deep, open air with lovely views of the mountains, and is always sparkling clean. And we were the only ones there!
How lucky are we? Sadly it is only open for July and August, as it is manned by students, and it will get a lost busier after the fiesta, but it is great facility to have, especially as most houses in the village do not have their own pool.
Today Jon and Ella have gone off to find a waterfall and some rock pools to swim in, but the walk down to them is not for the 'less-agile' and I needed to be here as tonight is the last choir practice before we stop for the summer, so I can't afford to miss that. But we will all be going over to the fiesta later tonight.