Saturday, March 22, 2008

Semana Santa Procession

As far as I understand, which is very little since I am neither Catholic nor a long-time Rota resident, there are processions (parades) on different nights leading up to Easter. Click HERE to read about the larger one in Sevilla.

This is when very large, very old relics from churches are put onto ornate platforms and carried through the streets. Preceided and followed by numerous people in the religous robes with pointed mask/hats.

Tonight, being Good Friday, was supposed to be a good time to go. John and I went down to our favorite Plaza by the Castillo, because that is where the Rota Tourism Office is. Only, it being a Spanish holiday, they were closed. Luckily, there was a guy in the front desk of the Castillo itself who had information.

He said the procession was starting at 7:30 at a church quite a bit away. They would be in our lil Plaza around 9:00, and then head back, returning to their own church at 1AM! Well, at least it is not in the sun, right?

It was only about 5:30, but we knew if we had left, we would never get parking again. And poor John was wearing a t-shirt and sandles. Not the best attire for night-time festivities. But we were determined!

So we hung around the plaza, having endless cafes, tintas, and tapas. Finally, we walked over to the beach. It was so beautiful watching the sun set over the Atlantic (weird for me). There were tons of people who also wanted good parking already around the beach and plaza. The kids were all dressed nicely, and some wore what looked to be white 1st Communion gowns with gold crosses on gold chains. They looked so cute.

Of course, we ended up back at our favorite lil Pastelaria (pastry shop) for some sweet things we still do not know the names of. Only this time, it was full of people! She was making a killing tonight!

We went back to the cafe and sat inside, because John was freezing of course. We sat there and watched a little girl about 3 playing a slot machine while who I assume was her father knocked back shots. Somehow, it made sense to look at it. I think I am already getting affected this place!

It got more and more crowded, and there were big carts in the plaza selling animal balloons and cheap kid's toys and colored popcorn and nuts. What does all this have to do with Good Friday? Well, I suppose as much as chocolate eggs have to do with Easter.

Closer to 9, the cafe and the plaza were full of people. Some of them were dressed in their robes, carrying their pointy hats (those things are talllll) and one older lady was dressed all in black lace, like an old painting of Mary; her dress is called a Mantilla. She scared John.

As you have seen, the church, castle, plaza are all squished together, so we had a wonderful spot to see it come through!

There was already a clear path for the procession, and waiting there were some people in the robes. They wore white robes with green hats. They carried 4 feet long white candles and held them out like jousting sticks. Some were little kids!

After a while, we could hear music coming up the street, and the berobed people in front of us got into formation and started walking. Then, the whole sky filled with smoke. Incense!! It smelled sweet and yummy! The music got louder, and we could see a HUGE crucifix making itself up the road. It was on a huge platform. More berobed people were in front of it. The people carrying it were hidden undernieth, and they walked in a way, so the platform sort of bounced with the music.

It came to a stop at the entrance of the church and sort of lowered, as if bowing. Everyone clapped. So we clapped. After a few minutes, it was rehoisted into the air, and this is also done in a very organized way, so that it makes a very jerked motion, as if it were (which I guess it is) thrown into the air and caught before it falls. This is a very exciting sight, because it is HUGE!!!! Of course, we all clapped again. Very cool.

Then, it turned in place, bouncing to the music, and walked through the plaza. After the crucifix, was what looked to be the Spanish Navy Band playing all clarinets or trumpets or both. Not sure. The music was pretty upbeat considering it is supposed to be a very solemn event. As I told John, it sounds like the part of the movie where you are supposed to cry because the two people who thought eachother was dead, see eachother and run accross a beach, and hug, or something like that. Less cheesey though.

After the band, were many more berobed people with candles and large gold crosses and stiff, velvet flags with biblical quotes.

Then comes a platform 3 times the size of the last one!!!!!!

It was Mary surrounded by massive, lit candles, lanterns and flowers. As she came closer, the last band's music had just melted away and different music was following her. Perfect timing! She also filled the air with more smoke.

The base was like filigree and there were 4 posts that hung a canopy over itself. The posts were rigged so that they swung A LOT back and forth as the carriers bounced it. And the canopy was dark velvet with gold tassles that hung down so they too swung like crazy. At first, I thought the whole thing was a bout to fall down, but it seemed to be the desired effect.

Mary came to the front of the church and also lowered. We all clapped, and someone from the church did what we believe was extinguish a candle then add flowers to her platform. Again, after a few minutes of which I am sure was welcomed rest for the carriers, she was hoisted up the same way. However, since she already looked less stable than the crucifix, this one was even scarier to watch! So we all clapped that she did not fall and crush us all, as she turned in place and bounced away.

After her was a concert band playing all kinds of instruments. Followed by more berobed people. Then, I suppose it was over. It was hard to tell, because no one was leaving, but the paths all filled in, and the church door closed, and the music and smoke were trailing away. As john and I made our way back to the car, we saw tons of people coming INTO the plaza! Maybe there is something else afterwards, maybe they were coming for mass. I do not know, but John and I were already pretty impressed (and freezing), so we went home.

OK, here is the SAD news.

My horrible camera luck has followed me to Spain. John took a couple photos of the first berobed people hanging out in the paza before it really started, and then the battery completey died. When Mary came, he tried to get photos and video with his phone, but it was totally malfunctioning and kept saying that it was busy!

I am hoping in a couple days, there will be some photos or video of what we saw. Tons of people were taking photos, and there were a few professional videos being made.

The whole thing was so interesting, fun, and a lil confusing at times. I told John it was like Disneyland. The air smells like cotton candy, kids are up way too late, and their is a huge crowd. There is also the same unreal feel about it. Like you stepped into another time or demension.

Can't wait until next year. John will have a jacket, the camera will have a battery, and hopefully, I will know more about what I am looking at.

These are the pics John got before the procession really started and our battery died:

The following are pics of me and the beach

(click HERE to see the album of these photos on my photo site):

1 comment:

nino said...

thats a nice beach, can you see morocco on a clear day?