Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Too much of a good thing
Easter in Spain I described a few posts ago so I'll skip straight to Moors and Christians which is loosely based on the triumph of the Christians over the North African invaders/rulers. In most places, as the name suggests, there are two main bands; The Moors, the North Africans, and the Christians, the eventually successful Spaniards. Generally the Moors get the better costumes. Sometimes there are Smugglers and sometimes Students. I don't know why and I'm too lazy to find out. Moors and Christians vary a lot. Sometimes there are big floats and lots of camels and horses. In other places the various troops march shoulder to shoulder keeping strict time to the music. We've seen one, I forget where, where the costumes included 18th Century soldiers uniform for lots of the participating groups. In the two and a half I've seen in the last few days the various groups haven't been particularly marshall. Some of them have vaguely marched, kept in step, but many more have simply gone for a stroll with a drink, usually a spirit and mixer, in hand. The strollers have been supported by members of the same group firing off arquebuses - those old fashioned blunderbuss type guns.
The Wine Horses is tied in to the Moors and Christians in a way. The usual story is that when the Castle of Caravaca de la Cruz was besieged by the Moors, in around 1250, the defenders ran out of water when their cisterns were exhausted. A group of Knights Templar loaded up some fast horses with wine skins and sped into the castle taking the besiegers by surprise and relieving the defender's thirsts. There are lots of events to make up the festival but the biggest one, up for World Heritage status, is a vague re-enactment of the Templar charge with four blokes, all men as I could see, running alongside an impeccably turned out horse wearing a fancy decorated coat, taking turns to do timed runs up the approach ramp to the castle. There are thousands, and I mean thousands of people on the approach ramp and lots of them have been drinking for a long time by the time the horses start to run. The crowd parts to let the horses through, well that's the idea any way. One bloke hauled me out of the way as I tried, vainly, to get a photo that wasn't too blurred and so badly framed as to be useless. He was quite cross with me. "It might have run you down," he kept saying to the degree that, eventually, I pointed out that it hadn't though. People bumping into me as they fled the horses made it difficult enough to take snaps without somebody saving me as well!
I have to say that the one I probably liked best though was the Romeria. This is the one where some statue of a Saint or a Virgin gets taken from one church to another little church. Sometimes the statues go in carts but usually they go on the backs of the faithful. The last couple we've been to have involved the carrying part followed by a Catholic mass but most people seem to just take it as an opportunity to go for a picnic in the countryside. Lots and lots, and I mean lots, wandering along dusty tracks hauling cool boxes and picnic tables just seems so Spanish and a great way to pass a day.
With a bit of luck though we won't have the opportunity to get to any more fiestas in the next couple of weeks. You can have too much of a good thing.