My little city has the Virgen de Alarcos, which follows a similar pattern if not quite on the same dramatic scale. Alarcos is, or was, a mediaeval walled city guarded by a castle on a hill a few miles out of town. In the 11th C there was some continued unpleasantness with the Arabs to the south, and the Knights of the Order of Calatrava were send to guard it. One day in 1095 the Arab army turned up unannounced, overran the place and put the entire city to the sword. It was never settled again.
|You can almost see the Arabs in the distance|
When you looked back at the plain it wasn't there. It was a mass of armed men, thousands of them, moving quickly in formation with swords in their hands and murder in their eyes. You exchange another glance which just says, "Oh, fuck", and you wait.
In true mediaeval fashion the statue of Our Lady was rescued from the church and carried to safety. It is she who will be placed on a cart and taken back to her old home this weekend, accompanied along the old road by a lot of people, hundreds, and possibly thousands. Once there they will hear Mass, then set about getting completely whammed.
These events are similar in many places around the south of Spain, taking an image to a shrine out of town and setting up camp there for the weekend with the flagon and the camp stove; and the tradition involves, of course, a lot of food and drink, usually fairly simple stuff, the traditional country food. This means that when you wake up on the grass late on Monday morning wondering what you did last night, you have the added pleasure of knowing that breakfast will consist of cheap red wine and fried chorizo. Colour is added by the stalls selling food and drink, headscarves and light dresses, olives, guerkins and pickled aubergines, and the air is thick with recycled fat and the cheerful banter of aubergine salesmen discussing who has the right to the prime pitch by the band.
|The Ditch by the Wall on the Left was full of Bones|
We often go up there on the Monday (which is a local holiday, for obvious reasons), either on foot or by bike, and contemplate the wreckage as it slowly stirs into life and becomes human again for the last few hours of the fiesta. In case we don't get there this year, I offer this post in advance. It's always the same.