Antes que nada I'd like to offer my sympathy and best wishes to the people of The Turks and Caicos Islands who have just suffered the ravages of Hurricane Irma.
I bumped into a friend in town today who lives on a hill just outside Álora. He looked a bit down in the mouth. He told me that his cat had been eaten by an eagle. While I was struggling to find appropriate words of consolation I wondered if this was likely..
'Did you see the eagle catch the cat?'
'No, but it was definitely an eagle or I'm a Dutchman.'
Rudi, who is not usually prone to flights of fancy, was clearly upset so I decided that this was probably the wrong moment to press my friend, who incidentally IS from Holland, on the matter. I had just been been telling him that I had started taking our dogs,Tommy and Monty, for walks near where he lives. He was just giving me a warning about the dangers up there in the hills.
I hope he recovers from his loss soon. I might suggest that he replaces his unlucky pet with the big tabby that keeps digging up our plants.
Watch this! Eagles snaches baby
We've got lots of eagles in Andalucía, including Golden Eagles which could easily snatch a moggie. In fact, a couple of years ago a lady called Suzanne Dodd (aged 43) had to fight off an eagle that was trying to grab one of her Jack Russells, just outside Benalmádena.
"Suddenly this enormous bird swooped across the path. With one talon it grabbed her nose and the other her collar and I thought that was it for the dog but it struggled for a moment and I moved in," she told The Daily Telegraph by telephone from her home.
She seized it by a wing and prised the bird's claws from her terrier's head as it dragged the dog from the path towards a cliff edge. "I had just a moment to act and grabbed hold of its enormous wing. It turned and bit me but released the dog."
The 'eagle' then chased her and the terrified terriers down the path towards Torremolinos and 'swooped down twenty times'.
'It was a terrifying and surreal experience' (Miss Dodd).
'There once was a woman called Dodd
Who thought that her child came from God
It wasn't the Almighty
That lifted her nightie
Complete the limerick to win this week's star prize, a two litre bottle of Dulce Zahira wine (13%vol). Mmmmm.
Answers, as usual, on the back of a 50€ note.
Box 501 Álora.
Blogger's query: Why does nobody ever enter these top notch competitions?
I once saw a 'Short Toed (Snake) Eagle flying off with a snake in it's beak up near Casarabonela.
Come to think of it, we lost our bag of sandwiches up there last October while we were picking olives. It was a large pink cool bag and it just disappeared. We never found the bag or the sandwiches. And Christopher Moore has lost his specs.
Good to see that our popular and long sitting alcalde (mayor) Jose Sánchez (no relation) ('Epi' to his friends) is back from sick leave and getting stuck into the job.
I saw him last week at Álora's annual Romería pulling pints (cañas y tubos) in the PSOE's chiringuito.
'Epi' getting stuck in.
Mrs. Sánchez and I always try to get back here in time for the Romería which is really a pilgrimage in honour of la Patrona ( the Patron Virgin) of Álora, La Virgen de las Flores (The Virgin of the Flowers). We have another 'spare' one called La Virgen de la Cabeza (The Virgin of the Head) but she only has a small romería down by the station in April.
La Virgen de la Cabeza.
The big Romería starts off with a novena (nine days of masses) in la parroquía (the parish church) in La Plaza Baja (the Bottom Square). Then we have The Day of the Virgin on September 8th. with a big procession and lots of celebrating and the following Sunday the actual 'pilgrimage' from La Plaza Baja to el Convento up on the Ardales road.
They used to send up cohetes (exploding rockets) on every one of the nine days, then on the Sunday there was an ear-splitting barrage at 8.00am. This was thought to be very entertaining and respectful until every dog owner from here to Pizarra complained and cracks started appearing in the houses on Calle Benito Suarez. Now we can all have a lie-in in prepartion for the hard day ahead.
Getting the ox-cart and the virgin ready at the bottom of our street.
Regular readers may recognise the chap on the right who is helping to tie the oxen to the cart. Yes. It's Juan Mañoño, brother of Paco Mañoño, in a relatively sober moment.
Juan is our Centro de Medico's (Health Centre) best and most loved customer.
Within two days he will be sporting another big bandage on his forehead after another 'accident'. (see above, five days later).It's about time they moved him into a bungalow - it could save the Spanish Health Service thousands of euros.
La Virgen de las Flores (she's been doing this since 1502 - Just gone 3.00pm).
The procession starts at 10.00am, going through the Plaza Baja up the very steep Calle Atrás pulled by two oxen which are encouraged by poles with sharp points. They reply by venting their voluminous bowels along the street. The scores of horses that follow need no such encouragement and follow suit. What a niff!
Going up Atrás
Hundreds of enthusiastic 'pilgrims' bring up the rear, trying their best to avoid all the festive faeces. This year the official street sweeper vehicle was out doing the business, much to the disappointment of Mrs. S. who is a keen gardener and had a bucket and shovel at the ready. The driver was not open to negotiation either. And I thought that Spain was built on curruption! Load of crap!
Our municipal 'clean machine'
Three hours later....
There are three big festivals in Álora every year and countless small ones. You´re never far away from a celebration here. The big difference between the two religious ones, Semana Santa (Easter) and La Romería is that the Romería is more fun. Everyone is smiling all day. And it NEVER rains. It fact, it was so hot last Sunday that a girl in front of me in the 'queue for the bar' keeled over in a 'swoon'. She soon recovered, but not before I'd managed to get my order in. Come on! It's every man for himself in those conditions.
The usual arrangement is that you have to queue up and buy tickets for the amount you're going to spend (like at a school fete) and then queue up again to 'buy' your drinks and food. It's anarchy out there, I can tell you. All the paella goes en dos por tres (like that) and you should see the size of the pan!
Anyone seen Paco?
We usually start off at El Capirote, the big chirigito run by the Dolores Hermandad. The PSOE one is usually very big too.
Paco Mañoño was helping behind the bar in El Capirote.This year he didn't go home in an ambulance. Must be off his beer.
By about 3.30pm. the dust starts blowing around and the horsemen get more drunk so it's safer to look for a 'private' party to gatecrash or a small chiringuito a bit out of the way.
I am turning left
The only criticism I have of this wonderful event is the lamentable lack of latrines. Most people just wander off into the olive trees which could all do with a drink at this time of year, but those prepared to queue at the only official servicios may have to wait many excruciating minutes in the searing heat for a seat.
Bar Adeli Blanco has opened on Calle Santa Ana. It is in the building that was the old post office, then Bar Correos, then Bar El Cirineo. The food is good and they do a good Menú del Día for 7.50€. Adeli is the owner and cook. It was shut today.
La Lonja de Mamely is tucked away on Avenida Cervantes, on the left. Its seafood is fantastic. We went today. Squid on toast, seafood croquettes.fried squid, tuna with guacamole on toast. Ice cold Cruzcampo cerveza.
The next big day (last weekend was The Day of the Pedal) will be El Día de las Sopas Perotas.(The Day of Sopas Perotas) on October 7th. Good fun for all with music, lots of stalls and a free plate of Álora's signature dish Sopas Perotas. Mmmmmm.
It's one of the few days in the year that Mocho's Bar in La Plaza Baja makes any money.
¡No te lo pierdes! (Don't miss it!).
(Our back wall is in the picture, just to the right of the spoon handle)
Juanito Sánchez 19th. September 2017 (Talk like a pirate day).