Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Looking for an epiphany

We've been to see a few Easter parades these last few days. When I was a schoolboy Mr Kemp and Mr Edwards, my Junior and Secondary school headteachers, were keen that I was given a good Christian Education. Whether I asked for it or not they made sure that I got it. Although I haven't really looked at a Bible or happily gone inside a church for well over forty years I still remember the basics of, for instance, the Christmas and Easter stories. At times it's not enough. So when I saw a float in a parade with the title of Aparicion de los Discípulos de Emaus or The Appearance to the Disciples at Emmaus it meant nothing to me. Fortunately other teachers tried hard to persuade me that finding things out and knowing how to find things out was easily as important as actually knowing things. It's much easier now than it used to be. Google knew. Emmaus or Emaus is one of those early Resurrection sightings.

In the same way that I have a well grounded but essentially partial grasp of Christian lore I have a reasonably good handle on Spain. I know a bit of history, a bit of culture, some politics and more. I keep trying to add to my knowledge. My sieve like brain is a perfidious ally in this attempt to learn and those funny foreign names don't help either but sheer persistence has worked for me in the past and I see no reason why it isn't a workable plan for, at least, the near future.

The last Easter float had passed us by. As we walked away the chair hire companies were loading their plastic seats into the back of myriad vans and the road sweeping machines were pirouetting around the streets which moments before had buzzed with spectators. As we neared our parked car we saw that there was something going on in the park, el Malecón, by the river. We've seen fairs and markets there before so we went for a nosey.

There were a bunch of temporary restaurants. They were busy. Most were called Peña this and that. Now peña is probably a word that I don't understand. Or maybe it's a word I understand perfectly. It seems to be a multi-use word - all peña usually means is that it's a group of like minded souls - Peña Madrileña for Real Madrid fans. It seems too that peñas can either be very open groups or quite closed groups. I've heard peña used to describe the garage hired by a bunch of mates during a town carnival to drink beer and hang around in. Often, within fiestas, there are peñas which are set up by associations of one kind or another. Your neighbourhood may be going to do some things in a town fête so the neighbourhood sets up a temporary HQ in an unrented shop. They call it a peña and it becomes a sort of social centre for anybody who has affiliations to that neighbourhood. Some peñas seem to be more permanent than others.

Anyway, so we've diverted to have a look in the park and we find all these restaurants and they are all called Peña this and that. We have no idea whether they are something to do with the Spring Festival, which always follows on from Easter in Murcia, or whether they are tied in to the Holy Week celebrations. We have no idea but hundreds and hundreds of people do, they are having their lunch there. Some of the peñas have price lists, most are completely full. We don't know if it's a walk in proposition, whether we need a reservation or if it's a members only deal. It doesn't matter. It's not as though we want to eat. We've already eaten in a bar in town. The reason we are interested is simply because we don't know what's going on. We are quietly and individually distressed. It's discomforting simply because we don't understand. It's another Emmaus moment.

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