Semana Santa

This update is long overdue. I wanted to write about my entire week during Semana Santa after it happened (last Monday), but I just wasn’t up to writing about an entire week, especially knowing that when I write, I tend to write a lot. Even the typical posts of 3-day trip tends to be about 5 pages. Doing the math, this could potentially be somewhere between 20 and 35 pages. So I’ll summarize everything and make it a little less painful for all of you to read.

First, Semana Santa = Holy Week. It’s this traditional religious celebration and it’s absolutely ridiculous. What it consists of is all the religious mongrels in the country get together to do all these ridiculous backward and outdated Middle Age celebrations while wearing costumes very similar to the robes worn by our homeland beloveds, the Ku Klux Klan,  in order to honor a dead zombie, popularly known as the J-man (or Jesus).  The best part is they even get all the children involved by having them march around for hours in these horrific outfits, all carrying giant candles, shrines of the J-man, and dragging over-sized crosses.  At least the little guys get candy as all the old high-priests (*insert pedophile jokes here*)  march around (also dressed like High Wizards of the Klan) with little hidden bags in their pockets full of sweets to give to the gawking and anxious children.

Personally, I think it’s a great celebration because it gives all us Heathens an entire week to party.

I started off the week by taking a 6-hour bus ride down to Sevilla with my friend, Luis. We had a great ride there, all though it was long, it was celebrated with 1.5 liters of Tinto de Verano (a red, fruity wine, similar to sangria minus the fruit). As my buddy Jose Luis always says, “There’s no verano (summer), without tinto de verano!””

We stayed at my friend Ruben’s house with his family for four days. Although the weather was dreary the entire time, and of course we had horrible luck that every time we stepped foot outside of our shelters, the rain would come down in buckets, but once inside the rain would immediately ease up, we still managed to have a terrific time. I think it might have been karma…

But we got to see a lot of Sevilla, hang out with Ruben’s very Spanish family, who was nearly impossible for me to understand.  It was so great of his family to take us both in and feed us and lend us their cars.  His family, although at times difficult to understand, were absolutely wonderful and I owe them a lot. Everyone had warned me that Andulusian Spanish was very different and everyone was right. I could barely understand his mother. The worst part is that I really thought I was becoming fluent in Spanish. Here in Madrid, it’s not hard to understand at all. I never have to strain to pay attention and understand conversations. But there, I got so tired of constantly trying to listen and understand.

One of the days, we went and saw one of the procesiones, which are these giant parades with hundreds of people watching as all the hooded “klansmen” march the streets with Cofradias, crosses, shrines, candles, burning insents, and all that religious stuff.  Just look at the pics.

As an American, it something quite strange and unnerving since our history and culture has programmed us to believe that anyone dressed as such is a member of the KKK. I’ve talked to several other Americans and they also felt uncomfortable with the processions, including Chloe when we saw one together in Málaga later on in the week. As an atheist, it just proves my unfaith even further watching all these brainwashed hooligans celebrating some dead Jewish guy and his “virgin” mother, all of whom died 2011 years ago. You’d really think the world would be over this cult called Catholicism by now…

Looking at the whole thing from an observer’s perspective, or as if to look at the event as one of them, it’s something exciting. It occurs across the entire nation every year and it’s always something to look forward to and is highly planned throughout the year. Plus, they give out candy, so who doesn’t like that?!  According to Luis and Ruben, it’s actually a really fun event and I guess it was only strange for me being a foreigner. I guess I shouldn’t be so harsh judging the whole event, but it was just something unexpected and shocking since it really seemed like a big cult celebration to me…

Anyway, our plan originally was to all meet in Torremolinos, Spain, that Thursday, where Ruben has a small apartment on the beach, but the weather forcast was rain, rain, rain, and more rain. Apparently it rains all week every year during Semana Santa. So, Ruben bailed on the plan because he didn’t feel like staying in a cramped up apartment in the rain with nothing to do. But my friends were still in Madrid since they all had to work through Wednesday (that was one of the benefits of being a teacher, I had the whole week off). So instead of going to Torremolinos, I bought a bus ticket to Málaga, where I met them after they told me they had rented out a hotel in a small, unheard of city called Nerja (which is right outside of Málaga).

We spent the day wandering Málaga, which is where Pablo Picasso grew up. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get to see his house or museum (meaning I’ll have to go back some other day and see it since he is my favorite artist by far), but we did have a great day wandering the city. We got to climb to the top of this tall hill and look across the landscape, it was very impressive.

Basically, our day there was spent wandering around the streets, me snapping tons and tons of photos, and us occasionally stopping into bars to warm up and dry off. We got dinner in front of a beautiful cathedral that was lit-up by bright white lights. We ate outside in the terrace since it had stopped raining. To say the least, it was all very romantic.

At about four am, after dancing in some night club and meeting a ton of new people, we took the 45-minute drive to Nerja, where my friends had all reserved a hotel room. I slept the entire ride home and once we got there, we all crashed.

The next morning, I was finally able to see where I was. This is the view that I got:

To say the least, it wasn’t a hotel, but rather an apartment, with an incredibly gorgeous view of the ocean. It was heaven! And best of all, it didn’t rain once! We woke up to the sun which meant one thing: TO THE BEACH! We spent the whole afternoon swimming, drinking beers, and napping out on the sand. It was absolutely wonderful.

In the foreground, there were threatening storm clouds, but they never reached the beach, they just lay at bay like a black rooftop on top of the mountains that surrounded the beach.

I also got really sunburnt. Oops.

But overall, the week was a little unusual since it was so unplanned with the weather and all, but it turned out to be a great experience and I’m glad I got to see more of Andalusia, which is a beautiful part of Spain.  It was also very eye-opening to see a traditional Spanish Catholic holiday celebrated. It’s just mind-blowing that the entire Semana Santa thing is accepted, normal, and even anticipated. To me, it was something horrifying and I guess in a way, exciting. At least I’m glad I got to see it.

Write more later,

Graham

One thought on “Semana Santa

  1. As a faithful devout to andalú, I can tell you this: learn to understand it, and you can understand Castillian anywhere. It was fun to fool my students into thinking I knew no Spanish because I didn’t understand them for about six months!

    Like

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