Sunday, 20 March 2016

Spain 2016 - Semana Santa, Procesion Liturgica Palmas.

Yesterday we went to the market in the morning and in the afternoon watched, fascinated, as storm clouds, thunder and lightning passed by, to the North of us. Threatening but not actually dumping on us. We spent the afternoon reading. No much to post about.

It's Palm Sunday today and I have been trying, ever since I got here, to find out about the processions that are held during Easter Week in Spain. There are posters around Ayamonte and I was able to pick up a booklet with the parade routes and times, in Spanish. There is a website with a great deal of explanation, also in Spanish and for some reason Google wont translate (I have had that with a couple of Spanish websites).
There are a total of 10 processions held during this religious time, starting on March 13 and ending on March 27. Most are in the evening or night time. The Tuesday night one ends at 2:30am. Although I would love to see the procession through the streets by candlelight, that's not going to happen!
So Dad dropped me at the last roundabout before town at about 10am and we made arrangements for him to pick me up at the same place at about 2:30pm and I hoped I had read the schedule right.
The parade route into Plaza del Rosario was lined with red draped barriers.
The band was there, standing around chatting and warming up.
The Plaza was lined with chairs
and the stage area was being prepared.
There didn't seem to be many people around and I was preparing myself to be disappointed in the event.
People along the route of the procession had draped their balconies in red.
As I got closer to the central church there were more scenes like this; children and adults in white robes, red cloaks, white gloves and carrying their red hoods and palm fronds.
They were amassing up beside and behind the church, lots of red hoods and palm fronds.
I took up a position at the top of the stairs in front of the church, in the sun and with a good view of both the streets beside and in front of the church. Soon the steps were filling with people with the same idea.
The band arrived and went behind the church too.
Still participants arriving.
The crowds quieted as the leaders of the procession took their places.
There was still a lot of waiting around as the Paso was not yet ready.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the costumes worn; " A common feature in Spain is the almost general usage of the nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists in a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity."
Then the church bells started ringing and more of the procession moved into the street.
Some more waiting.
Can we go yet?
A bit more of the procession moved into place and the band started up, filling the air with brass and drums.

Not sure what the blue cloaks and hoods signify but they were carrying silver ornamental sticks, most participants were in red.
Then the Paso emerged, high over everyone's heads. It immediately had to make a 90 degree left hand turn. Not easy as the men carrying it are beneath it and can't see as the bottom is draped. The front inches to the left, the back inches to the right and there is actually applause when they make it.

The Paso was quite large with a number of statues on it, Jesus riding on a donkey at the front, ornate gold, flowers, candles and a life like palm tree. After it had passed, people flooded into the street to follow.

The band followed.
The church reflection attests to the care in polishing.
There was an extensive drum section and you could hear the drums wherever you were in town.

I hope the videos upload OK as I can't write well enough to give you the atmosphere, the power of the music echoing off the buildings and the immensity of the float with its slow rhythmic movement.
The procession moved away from the church and in to Plaza de la Laguna
And the cafes quickly got set up for business again.
I didn't follow the parade. Instead I cut back to where it would end.

I heard the band so cut through to see it coming down a nearby street.
Good views to be had from the balconies.
The Paso stopped close to me and I realized then that it wasn't just turning corners that slowed the progress but that, every now and then, replacements shifts swapped in to carry it.
I watched one young man getting ready to take his turn.
First a long black scarf is wrapped around his waist.
Then a back brace and
then this burlap and cloth head gear.
Back to the procession....

The Paso is impressive, The statue of Christ seems to be blessing the crowds as it passes by.
It is very ornate and
people reach out and gently touch it as it goes by.
Covered in flowers.
I went back down a couple of narrow streets to watch the procession move along the main road and into Plaza Rosario. By now the kids were pretty tired and hot. I saw parents holding the hoods and palm fronds. I saw one mum using potato chips, like carrots, to keep her son moving along. It was lunch time after all.
Hmmm, should I tell her her hats crooked?
Nope, her Mum will fix it for her
Even the adults were looking hot and tired. I can only imagine how they were feeling under the Paso
You can just see the feet of the guys carrying it, under the drape.
They made their way into the Plaza with the chairs now full of spectators and the officials on the stage.
I left at this point, not being interested in hearing speeches in a language I didn't understand. I had seen a tapas restaurant, in my wandering of the back streets, that I wanted to try for lunch, so headed back there.
I had noticed it because it advertised tapas at 2Euro and looked like an attractive little place.
When I went in there was one other table taken so I sat at a table for 4 near the bar and ordered, enjoying the quiet after the crowds and noise of the procession. Soon I noticed the outside tables filling up.
Some of the tapas was displayed, in the traditional way, on the bar, but the menu was far more extensive than this (maybe these were just the cold tapas)
The waiter bought my Agua can gas, Vino Tinto and the little dish of pickles and olives, first. Then the Russian salad (potato salad with other vegetables in it too), prawn salad and bread. The bill was just under 7 Euro (about $10 Can).
By the time I had finished the inside section around the bar was full ,with a lineup outside. I moved to the bar to make room for a family of 6 to use my table for 4 and both the waiter and the bartender made approving noises so I knew I had done the right thing. I finished my wine at the bar where the rest of the stools filled and people were standing. The 2 waiters and the bartender were flying to keep up with the crowds coming in after the procession.
Part of the problem was this huge reserved table, laid with cutlery and bread, waiting for a large party (perhaps some of the procession participants).
I pushed my way out through the crowds around the bar and realized that inadvertently I had found a very popular restaurant, with the city inhabitants. I took a quick look on Tripadvisor when I got home and found lots of great reviews and an overall rating of 4 out of 5.
It wasn't yet time to be picked up so I walked back to the Plaza and sketched. I was feeling quite mellow from a day of walking around town and a lovely lunch.
I sat on one of the lovely tile benches (not as bad as it sounds, leaning on my backpack for some cushioning) and sketched the banners for Semana Santa hanging from the lamp standards.

I waited a short time opposite the tourist office and Mum and Dad picked me up, no problem.

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