Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Semana Santa - Day 7 - More Street Scenes

No rain today...  at least not until late evening...  but in the last week Bill & I have seen 3 parades, watched the staging for a couple of others that were called due to rain, and so today we're content just to wander around the city watching the street scenes.

On display at the shopping mall was this headgear....
The men carrying the pasos (floats) wear these turban-like head gear.  According to Wikapedia, the men are underneath the paso and not seen by the public, they carry the paso on their shoulders and necks with their  heads bowed down, and the paso rests on that padded roll that is across their shoulders.  
A paso weighs more than a metric ton, and depending on the size, it can take anywhere from 24 to 54 men to carry it through the streets.

Festivities are still going strong!
Those aren't real ice-cream cones, but some kind of confection.  When this vendor saw my camera, he happily held out his wares for me to see. 

The neighborhood bars were packed...
Even along streets as narrow as ours, there are cafes and bars where the clientele stay mostly outside.  Some have tables and chairs, some have bar stools, and some have just a ledge on the outside of the building to set your drink and tapa while chatting with your friends.
Everyone moves aside if a car drives through.   

Looking along the riverfront from the bridge...
 the sidewalk cafes are filled to overflowing.  Saturday is near the end of Semana Santa...  everyone wants to enjoy the week-long holiday to the fullest!

I love the huge sycamore trees that line the streets...
The trees I've seen the most are the orange trees, the palm trees and these huge sycamores.  Some look quite ancient, but were probably placed here in 1929 during that year's World's Fair.

We were looking for a geocache and found this instead...
I don't know how long he'd be if he hadn't have lost his tail...  he is about 4" - 5"  now.  We haven't seen many lizards and such, but are still cautious when hunting geocaches in knotholes and such.

Here's a Nazarene...  heading to a procession
We could tell which brotherhood that he belongs to by the color combination of his tunic and hat. 

And another group of the same brotherhood...
After a while they cease to look spooky to me...  but then, I've only seen them in the dark once, and everything looks more ominous in the night.

Here's Bill...  in one of the city plazas...
Beautifully landscaped...  even the pigeons (at the left) enjoy that green, green grass! 

These young men were enjoying a smoke...
First time I've ever seen a Hookah in use.  I'm assuming they were smoking something legal... but then, for all I know, anything's legal here.  Didn't look like anything I'd want to try.

Yet another order of brotherhood tunic...
On his way to his church's procession. 

As we were walking home, we saw this group heading towards town.  Too many parades for us to see them all!
 They are outside of the Triana Market...  my favorite city market.  Reminds me of the Farmer's Markets back home.

As we were crossing a bridge, I looked down and saw these..
Don't know what species of flower...  obviously in the daisy family, but to me..  just beautiful!

And also, along our walk...
These 2 cats (feral) were munching morsels of food that a couple who were picnicking nearby were tossing them.  They look pretty healthy for street cats! 

And, of course, my favorite views of the buildings...
This, and several other nearby buildings, were built for the 1929 World's Fair.  Many were pavilions of countries like Peru, Cuba, Argentina, Mexico and the like.  Now they are used as museums, libraries, theaters, and other public use buildings. 

And, one last photo...
 The orange trees have more blooms each day, but the rains and wind have blown off many of the petals.  Still...  the fragrance of the orange blossoms is in the air..  sometimes you turn a corner and the aroma is all around you.  Beautiful!

Sunday is the last day of Semana Santa.  There is one final procession scheduled.  Spain goes on daylight savings time early Sunday morning, so nothing will be on a "normal" schedule.  
Then, come Monday, the week-long holiday will be over and the city will go back to everyday life.

That's All For Today!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Semana Santa - Day 6 - A Walk About Town

Since classes are over Bill & I have plenty of time to walk around town.  Most business are closed since it is Good Friday and the processions don't start around noon.  

We walked towards the cathedral...  that's where all the processions walk to.  The photo below shows City Hall on the right.  The city has set up rows of chairs along the plaza...  the processions pass right down the center giving those seated a birds-eye view of the parade.  I believe Bill read that a person can "rent" a chair... whether for the whole week or just one parade, I don't know.
 There was a clean-up crew working while we were there...  spiffing it up before the next parade came along.

It had started to rain about the time we had walked this far.  The fact that there were no parades passing by and the misting rain is the reason there are no people walking around this beautiful plaza...
 This is a courtyard located just behind the cathedral.  It is a bit out of the way, but is worth the stop by just to take in the beauty of the curved building, the fountain and the pattern of the tile.

This little guy was cheerfully playing his drum...  just like he'd seen the men in the bands...
 But he turned shy when I started to take his picture.  
I had asked his parents if I may before snapping it.

There are many little parks nestled in and among the city streets.  This is one we hadn't walked in before.  It's right beside the huge theater.  It has a couple of fountains as well as a winding path that leads you out to the street again.
I couldn't read the plaque..  but this ancient tree looks as if new growth has sprouted from that gnarled old trunk.

At one end of the park, and adjacent to the theater entrance is this statue of Mozart... 
There is a geocache hidden in this statue...  took us 3 different walks here before we finally found it this time.
Those are raindrops on the camera lens...  the rain was picking up by now..  became much more than a drizzle, so we headed home.

The rain stopped later in the day, so we headed out again, hopefully to see a procession that was scheduled to start at 6pm.
 As we're walking along the sidewalks, we look up at the balconies that overlook the plaza.  Many have these "skirts" around the railing.  A few have these decorations.  They are palms, woven into intricate designs.  This one is about 5' long...  it's not only a symbol of Palm Sunday, it's a work of art.

There were several different processions scheduled, and each brotherhood has its own color of garb.
 I'll have to admit that while I don't find the brightly colored robes eerie, the black, or black and white ones are a bit intimidating.  Probably has to do with associating those to the KKK....

We watched for at least an hour a procession forming at a church just a block over from where we live.  
 The band members were congregating right next to the wall where I was sitting.  Many set their drums and instruments down ...  along with those metal hats, and stand in groups talking.  Quite an interesting group of people (both make and female) and musical instruments after a while.

The Nazarenes started arriving...
Entire families garbed in bright purple.   The little guy looks almost like the altar boys of my youth.

 For over an hour they kept coming...
This was going to be a relatively small procession...  only about 2,000 participants.   

Another little person...
She is carrying her basket of holy cards, or maybe candy, to hand out to the audience.

As it happened, around 5:45 the rain began.
There will be no procession today for this church.
The pasos (floats) are much too valuable to be subjected to the rain.  It is so disappointing to have to cancel an event that happens only once a year.  
This band member and his young son are heading home...  

And Bill & I did too.

That's All For Today!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Semana Santa - Day 5 - Mostly Mantillas

We had the whole day to wander about the city...  the weather was great and it even got warm enough to shed our jackets by afternoon.

Everyone wears their finest.  Many of the  men will have on suits and ties.  The women are dressed smartly...  often with very high-heel shoes, patterned stockings, and tasteful suits or dresses.  (We haven't seen many t-shirts, and not a whole lot of jeans) 
A typical scene...  a family group having lunch at an outside table.

The pasos (parades) continue throughout the city until Sunday afternoon, but Thursday and Friday of Holy Week are days of mourning...  at least in dress...
On these two days many women wear the traditional "Mantilla".  The Spanish word for blanket is "manta", so translated, the women wear "little blankets" (or veils) on their heads.
 The mantilla is held in place by a rather tall headpiece...  I think traditionally held on ones head by long "comb-like" teeth.  This requires the hair to be pulled back into a bun or chignon.  
 The long veil drapes down the back...  
At the back it is held in place by a clip. 

As we were walking across the bridge we saw 2 very lovely young women approaching.  I wanted to get a photo of them and was trying to be discreet...  hah!  I got busted!  They not smiled and posed for a picture....
 They got on either side of Bill and he got to pose with these two beauties!  Bill is almost 6' tall...  these women are wearing VERY high heels, and with the addition of their headpieces, are quite tall.  Note also their black gloves.  Many of the women were also carrying a rosary.

Okay... so he isn't wearing a mantilla...
We came across our favorite gladiator yesterday...
He always poses for me and gives us a big smile.

We had walked to the supermercado...  which was closed... 
But in the mall were these photos...
Remember me writing that the Nazarenes hand out holy cards to the crowds on the sidewalks?  This is a display of the kind of artwork that is on those cards.
(those 5 colorful circles at the top are just reflections of the stained glass windows in the mall, which was the old train station)

A very distinguished looking couple
 You can see her rosary and maybe a Bible in her right hand.  They are both wearing "lapel" pins which denote which brotherhood, or church, that they belong to.

Among all the classy people, we came across this scene..
A young mother on roller blades...  pushing her daughters stroller along the sidewalk...
The whole street scene can be a conflict to sights and sounds!

Another mujer...  and probably her granddaughter..
All dressed up for the occasion!

I had to laugh when I saw this young woman..
Her mantilla was longer than her skirt...
Those shoes and short skirt just don't quite look like "mourning" attire to me.

When we first started walking around town nearly 2 months ago, I thought there sure were a lot of twins here.
Took me a few days to realize that many families dress their kids alike.  These little girls are probably age 4 & 6.  There was another little girl dressed in blue... just like the little boy.  
The little boys are darling!  They often have on tights, worn with a pair of shorts and often a jacket.  We saw a family with 5 kids the other day... the 4 little girls were dressed alike, the little boy had the same color of tights, with shorts of the same dark green of the girls jackets.  They looked like little stair-steps...  all dressed the same.

Another little girl...
Dressed in her best!
By the way...  you can see how narrow the streets can be - many have one-way traffic only.  The sidewalks are also very narrow... at times Bill & I have to walk single file...  those posts are to keep people from parking on the sidewalks, and maybe to keep pedestrians safe from passing cars.

One last picture of the lovely ladies...
The End 
of another fun adventure!
(Check out those stockings with seams up the back!  When's the last time you saw that?)

That's All For Today!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Semana Santa - Day 4

Yesterday was our last day of classes.  I'll be writing all about that later, but want to keep a record of each day of Semana Santa (Holy Week).  We knew that a procession would be passing right in front of our school at 5:30, so after class we got something to eat, then went back to the school so that we could have "ringside" seats of the parade.

The crowd started gathering early...
By 5pm the streets were packed... 

I have been using the word "parade", and while technically that's what these are, they are called a "cofradia".  This is made up of one, two or sometimes three processional platforms or "pasos".  A paso is kind of a portable altar on which an episode of the gospel is represented.  It moves thanks to the costaleros (the men under the platform) that, carrying the weight on their shoulders, move, little by little down the streets.

There were costaleros hurrying to the procession starting point...
Men (and women and children) are part of the brotherhood of a church.  This brotherhood, the El Baratillo, was formed in 1693.

I loved watching the little kids..
The costaleros hand out "holy cards" and "religious medals" as they pass by people watching from the sidewalks.  Often, the little kids pass out candy.

Here's another little girl on her way to the church..
Her garb is a little different than most we saw.

Children of all ages are dressed for the parade...
His mother probably has a little cone-shaped hat for him somewhere in his stroller....

I guess I'm kind of partial to the little ones...
I think this little guy was ready to raid his stash of candy...  

The procession was postponed because of the threat of rain..  5:30 came and went...  6:00...  6:30...  by 6:50 Bill and I are considering heading home.  At 7:00 someone decided that it was not going to rain and the parade began.
The nazarenos, who with their tunics for the procession and capirotes (cone carton on the head), carry candles, emblems or rods.  The penitents (dressed in tunics, but their hats do not have a cone insert), carry crosses instead. 

While most of my photos were taken from a first floor window, I went upstairs to another classroom to get this shot...
As you can see, the street is very crowded.  Hardly room for the procession to pass through...

Finally, the first "paso"
This paso is of Jesus - he has been taken down from the cross. 

A  photo of the penitents...
These crosses are more symbolic than the "real" thing, but still... to carry one of these for hours would make a person quite weary.

Another photo of the paso
Right behind this paso is a band...
 Some have music, others a respectful silence.
There are some processions that are totally silent... and during the night, with only the candles lit, I understand it can be quite eerie watching a long line of hooded men walk by, not making a sound.

A Huge Band!
Those hats look like Roman helmets from gladiator days! 

The last paso is the Virgin Mary float...
Whether a procession has 2 or 3, the last paso is known as the "paso de palio", and is always the Virgin Mary in a sorrowful attitude under a canopy, supported by 12 bars and always with candeleria used to hold the candles lighting the scene.  Rich embroidery gives a touch of art to these pasos.

During the rest of the year, these pasos are kept in a special room in each church - often on display for the public throughout the year.
They are very intricate... and very expensive.  If there's even a threat of rain, they will not be taken outside.  We're told that if it rains during Holy Week (as it has this year) and a church's procession is canceled, it can reduce people to tears of disappointment and sorrow.

There are a total of 60 churches that participate in the cofradias in the streets...  walking from their own church to the main cathedral, then back again.  The longest procession lasts 14 hours!  This was one of the shorter ones...   only 2 hours total.  There were over 5,000 participants in this particular parade.

There were 9 different parades today.. On Thursday there will be 7 more.  These processions are everyday up until and including Easter Sunday.  Is it no wonder that this week is a holiday for most people?

That's All For Today!