Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fiesta of the Madonna

Today was fiesta day in El Medano. Nothing unusual in that really, as there seems to be one every few days - but today's was the Big One. Last night there was an amazing firework display (one of the three best ever that I've witnessed - the others being Australia Day in Perth, WA and New Year's Eve in Jericoacoara in Brazil).

And today was the Fiesta of the Madonna. Now I'm not going to pretend that I really understand what's going on here (and it's probably not even called that), but it seems to be a celebration of the riches of the ocean, combined with a religious thanksgiving, combined with the usual general knees-up - this time culminating in a mass paella experience.

First the religious bit ...

the men carry St Joseph into the sea

a good excuse to get wet (but don't drop the camera :)

The statue is loaded onto a boat and then sailed around the bay, to the accompaniment of much hooting of klaxons and general mayhem. A circle of boats is formed and flowers are dropped into the sea (very Hawaiian that). Meanwhile back on land ...

the women carry the Madonna into the church

Nikki says: "it was quite interesting for me as an ex convent girl and a lapsed catholic ... I followed the procession up to the church, and then went inside - the first time in fifteen years that I'd been in a church ! It felt quite strange for me, and provoked some weird feelings. When I was brought up as a catholic in the UK it was much more austere. Here in Spain there seems to be a much more relaxed approach to religion ... more celebration and more joy ... perhaps if I'd been brought up in this culture I might have remained a catholic."

So, it's this synthesis of religion and just having a good old knees-up that makes the fiesta so uniquely latin. Everybody from granny to the toddlers have a great day out, there lots of eating, drinking and dancing - and nobody throws up or starts a fight.

the band strike up ...

and more people get wet as it hots up

beauty queens strut their stuff

and then ... out comes the Mother of all Paellas !

and we leave you with this shot of a shy girl who knew she was being photographed ...

No comments: