Saturday, 20 February 2016

Spain 2016 - El Rocio

We got up and got going this morning as we had some driving to do. On the highway it was about an hour to the turnoff to Donana (pronounced don-ya-na). We went into a community that Dad thought we could use as a place to catch the bus to Seville but the lovely lady in the tourist info (who spoke as much English as I spoke Spanish, many gestures) recommended we go to the next community and take the train - mas rapido. So we headed to that community and found the train station. There the clerk spoke excellent English and we got the times and cost and will probably take that option on Monday.
Drove on down to El Rocio. This is a bizarre little community. The story is that a shepherd found a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree and decided to take it back to his village. He stopped for the night and in the morning the statue was gone - back to the tree he had found her in. So, of course, you build a church there. Every year there is a pilgrimage Romeria del Rocio to this place (El Rocio) from all over Spain and the statue of the Virgin is carried through the streets to each of the houses of the Brotherhoods. Each town or village in Spain has a house in this community that is closed up for the rest of the year. They come across the Donana marshes in traditional costume, on horseback and in ox carts. It draws hundreds of thousands to participate and watch. There's a lot of drinking and revelry. Part pilgrimage, part party!
The streets are sand and wide, room for lots of horses and wagons and people but now, just tourists.
We stopped at a restaurant that Mum and Dad have been to before and had lunch then Nic and I explored while Mum and Dad drove down to the lagoon to birdwatch.
The house for the brotherhood from the town of Gines.
The houses often have bell towers, wrought iron balconies, ornate wooden and iron doors, hitching posts for the horses and ...
various depictions of the Virgin in her robes...

Particularly interesting to Nicola and I, was this house (two sisters). We found out on the internet that its a town.
Fabulous Spanish architecture everywhere, I plan on coming back to sketch some.
Walking across one of the sand streets we saw this in the sand;
A game invented in Canada, in Spanish, on a street in Spain.
Nicola was particularly interested in the village dogs. Here a very friendly long haired dachshund.
Stores selling flamenco costumes and traditional riding costumes.
I loved the little girls flamenco shoes and the big girls leather boots.
The church is very pretty with its ..
shell shaped entrance.
Inside everyone was taking pictures, so we did too, until an announcement was made that it is prohibited and then we saw a small sign near the altar that said that. Sorry.
One of those forbidden shots.
Understandably (given all the carrying around that is done) she looks a little worried.
This interesting building had candles to be burned and ...
another interesting statue.
Next to the church is a huge expanse of sand and pictures show it chock full of people during the festivities and then there is a lagoon with lots of bird life.
A Glossy Ibis
A Shoveler.
Next we drove down to Donana but that is for the next blog post.

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