Tourists Flock to Álora for Slipping, Swearing and Scary Walks
America's greatest and most successful crime writer, Elmore Leonard, gave 10 rules for aspiring writers and the first was:
'Never open a book with weather'.
It's a good job I have no such aspirations because here I go again.
We've been here in the most beautiful and friendly town in Spain for two weeks now and it's raining a cántaros (cats and dogs) again. Seville's famous annual feria kicks off on Sunday so it had better clear up by then! According to our amiga , Ana Molina Pérez there was a hurricane there on Wednesday.
'Hurricane' in Seville
You´d think everyone would be going round wearing long faces, Wellington boots, pakamacs(TM) and cagouls, wouldn't you? Well, not a bit of it. The big event of the year here, the Despedía (farewell), had to be cancelled on Viernes Santo (Good Friday) because rain was forecast but even that disaster has not dampened the spirits of the hardy Perotes.
Umbrellas at the ready
Dolores Coronada made only a brief appearance. She did a couple of quick laps round the bottom square and nipped back into the parroquía (parish church) before the rain started and she'll staythere safe and dry until next spring.
Thousands of disappointed visiting virgin fans headed uptown to drown their communal sorrows in the bars of the Plaza de la Fuente Arriba until the early hours of Saturday morning.
Our neighbour, Joachím is the Hermano Mayor (Chief Brother) of the Dolores Hermandad (Brotherhood) and spent most of Friday morning pacing up and down our street, looking glum.
Joachím (on the left) looking glum
You can imagine the damage that a soaking could do to Dolores's costume but that's not the only reason the Despedía was cancelled. By Friday, after several days and nights of candlelit processions, many of Álora's streets were covered in black and purple candle wax.
So many Perotes have ended up in A&E after slipping on the wax in recent years that this year the ayuntamiento (town hall) has put up warning notices.
"Attention! Risk of falling and slipping. Wax on the pavement."
In Malaga they have special wax removers that remove the deadly and unsightly stuff.
If we had one here it could save the Spanish Health Service millions of euros.
A familiar sight.
Anyway, it's no good shaking your head and saying 'Qué asco de tiempo!' (What awful weather!) to a Perote (Aloranean) because he or she will just smile and say 'El campo las hace falta aguas' (the fields need rain). - and as olive farmers we agree entirely.
The reservoirs down here are now nearly full. Some are even releasing water to prevent damage. What a waste. Enough is enough!
When it's raining in Andalucía
The residents give a loud cheer.
The ex-pats, however,
Prefer the dry weather
Hot sun, English grub and sangría.
Mrs. Sánchez and I are convinced that every year some new event or procedure is added to the already ample agenda of Semana Santa. (Holy Week). This year ,on the day after Viernes Santo, our neighbour and tobacconist, Antonio plucked my sleeve and asked if I was going up to the football ground for 'un gran acontecimiento' (a big event). This was a new one on me. The Saturday after Good Friday has always been a bit of an anti-climax, with only El Dia de Jesus Resucitado (Easter Sunday) to look forward to and no chocolate eggs. This year they've slipped in another attraction...The Swearing of Allegiance to the Flag of the Parachute Regiment. (La Jura de Bandera).
La Jura de Bandera
About 300 Perotes lined up to kiss the bandera (flag) of the Paracaidistas (Paratroop Regiment). We couldn't make it as we were entertaining guests who had indicated a preference for a trip up to the Lakes followed by a home cooked paella in our garden. Who can blame them?
The event was attended by our popular and still youthful alcalde (mayor) José ' 'Epi' to my friends' Sánchez. (no relation) and a few of his town hall pals. I don't know if he kissed the flag or not but he joined in the spirit of the occasion.
Epi and his military mates.
To round off the celebrations a hundred doves were
If this new and thought provoking Easter celebration seems a bit bizarre, that's because it is. Two of the main processions here and elsewhere I am told, involve the military - Las Paracaidistas and La Legion Espanola. (The Spanish Legion).
A popular feature is when the Paras juggle with their automatic rifles in the usually dimly lit crowded streets of our little town. So far no-one has been blinded or maimed. The Paras, for reasons unknown to me, have a close association with one of the main hermadades (brotherhoods) 'El Señor de las Torres'. One of the swearers explained to me that the ceremony was really intended for members of the hermandad, but because it's 'incompatible' for the church and the army to be seen collaborating, everyone was welcome and the presence of the alcalde made it more of a 'civil' event.
Don't pencil this into your 2019 diary yet. My friend Paco told me it only happened because the top general of the Paracaidistas happened to be in town visiting his grandma for Easter and was up for a bit of a do.
All the hoo-ha surrounding Catalunya's bid for independence has died down a bit for the moment as all the candidates for the presidency are either in jail or or dashing round Europe trying to avoid arrest for terrible crimes.
The big news at the moment is about Cristina Cifuentes the president of the Comunidad de Madrid who is trouble because she lied (allegedly) about her qualifications
President Cristina Cifuentes with her fake certificate.
It appears that the Master's Degree that she says she obtained in 2012 is a fake. She never attended lectures (not that unusual I would have thought), never completed the course work and never took any exams She can not produce her final thesis and the signatures on a document she produced to prove she had ever been near the 'University of King Juan Carlos' turned out to be fakes.
She's the top Partido Popular (PP) political person in the whole of the Madrid Region. The university, which is the only thing in her story that DOES exist, is 'very close' to the Partido Popular and its Director of Public Law Department has been suspended.
Well I ask you, who hasn't lied on their CV at some time or other? I can't see what all the fuss is about. Granted that she appears to be a cheat and a liar, but she wouldn't have got where she is in politics today, Reggie, if she wasn't.
Cristina is refusing to budge and is convinced she can avoid resigning by shouting at everybody, stamping her feet and saying she's going to be sick.
Somebody ought to tell her that if she wants a Master's Degree that badly all she has to do is go to Oxford or Cambridge University in England, get a BA or something, pay £10.00 and 'Bob's your uncle!' An MA.
Lord David Willetts, Universties and Science MInister
Indeed, our own, much loved David (now Lord) Willetts, Conservative Minister of State for Universties and Science until recently did just that and nobody batted an eyelid! He even wrote a book about it.
You couldn't make it up.
Here's some good news.
The Caminito Del Rey, (The World's Most Scariest (sic) Walkway) which is half in 'Alora and half (approximately) in Ardales and which has been open to the public for three years now has been visited by 1,000,000 people who have 'brought a hundred million euros to the region'.
The Caminito del Rey (before it was mended).
The World's Most Scariest Walkway
(after it was mended)
So says Elías Bendodo, President of Malaga Region. I can't imagine where all that money has gone unless they used it to put thousands of pot plants on walls around the town. A couple of candle wax removers wouldn't go amiss.
New pot plants on Calle Erillas
The Malaga provincial government is very pleased with the 'international recognition' that the Caminito has achieved but they're disappointed that not many visitors are staying overnight in the area despite the fact that "In Alora and Ardales there are 350 hotels with a capacity of 5,000 beds".
Really? I'd like to know where they all are. We've got one hotel and three hostals here in town so that leaves Ardales (population 2037) with the other 346.
Book early to avoid disappointment!
15th. April 2018