Wash Day

Sunday seems to be our weekly washday. There is a laundry here, but just one machine was working, so we had a go in the Internet café between loads. This is a Portacabin with a single computer. It is not possible to log in on other devices. There is also a machine dispensing chilled drinks, another filled with snacks, a selection of second hand books and two chairs. The chair in front of the screen is relatively comfortable. Nick, who we met in Barbate had managed look quite urbane, sitting in there of an evening with his own glass of red wine. During the day it was stuffy, the screen hard to see and I was on the other chair. John persevered finding data to update the pilot book, while I went back and forth swapping laundry loads. When we had finished Lyra was festooned in our fluttering garments and bedding. Why boats need to display an ensign to inform other craft about owners whose sundries regularly fly from the guardrail is beyond me.

Blowing in the wind

In the evening we walked into town and came across a small floriferous shrine with a plaster Jesus, at which a couple of youths were genuflecting. Moving on up a side street we noticed people gathering and hanging around, so we joined them. Shortly after a parade went by. First came priests all in white trundling along a float on which four bookish Saints surrounded a mound of flowers under a small crown. Then followed a troupe of dignified people in dark suites and, just as it was beginning to resemble a parade of Craft Guilds, a band of toy soldier cadets, playing a dirge, the sombre drum beat conducting their comrades in arms, who came gently goose stepping after. When they had all passed by we went the opposite way and passed another Jesus shrine being dismantled. Round the next corner we spotted a third in the process of being set up. Intrigued we sat in a nearby street cafe and ordered beer. A loud yapping was coming from somewhere close by, having scanned the pavement to no avail I looked up and there was the culprit with its’ foxy head through the railings of a small balcony. Looking along the walls were smaller banners proclaiming Corpus Christi. A quick Google on John’s phone told us it was some sort of celebration of the presence of Christ in Holy Water, it involved strewing the streets with flowers and this year it was today. We waited, hearing the distant drumbeat moving closer and then away from us. A line of biddies in plastic chairs formed opposite the shrine, at which a barked protest erupted from the balcony above. Just then the archangel Gabrielle came trundling towards us, and the barking ended with an abrupt yip.

The parade seemed to have grown somewhat. Smartly dressed adults strolled behind banners chatting to one another; many had medallions hanging from their necks. There was a more cheerful band to set a beat, but the parade kept stopping for no apparent reason, pausing, then continuing on its way. Every so often a group was headed by young girls in long white dresses and resigned expressions. Some carried baskets of petals, which they seemed to be picking up from the floor, in the manner of shell seekers on a beach, rather than strewing. The tide of folk looked set to go on forever. Suddenly John was in the midst of it, as a rabble of children overran the street, the flower girls accompanied by boys in white uniforms. They seemed less restrained and to be having a better time of it, chanting Viva at appropriate moments in an unending call and response song, sung by a bearded man with a reedy amplifier. After they had all swarmed by came more adults. John fought his way across the street to pay at this point, just as our original four Saints float arrived, at which moment figures on the cathedral roof behind hurled armfuls of petals into the air, to rain down over the shrine and all around it. We left before the end of the parade, having already seen what was to come.

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