Sunday, July 26, 2009

Día de la Virgen del Carmen

As we moved along the coast of Spain the weather was dreary and the sea swells made for very uncomfortable sailing. We did two very short 20 mile sails from A Coruna to Malpica and then the next day on to Corme. Elena, Mjolner and Pjotter were the only sailboats in the bay of Corme. The rest of the bay was filled with fishing boats flying festive flags for July 16th is the fiesta of the Virgen del Carmen. The Spanish festival Día de la Virgen del Carmen is a major celebration recognized throughout the coastal regions of the Iberian Peninsula. Virgen del Carmen, or the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is the patroness and protector of all seamen. The main event of the day is a massive parade that features the statue of Virgen del Carmen, all the townsfolk, many dancers and bands. The huge procession passes from the church through the town and down to the sea. Upon reaching the sea they set sail in extravagantly adorned boats, accompanied by the blowing of horns from a flotilla of jábegas, or fishing boats. Leonie, Rosa and I took the dingy in to the quay to watch (Adam and Seb were babysitting). We tied up to the quay expecting to watch the departure and then leave but we were strongly encouraged by a very friendly group of locals to join them on their boat to participate in the festivities. This small group of boats made their way out of the harbour, each carrying wreaths and bouquets of flowers to throw into the sea as offerings in the memories of lost sailors. Once we were out in the harbour, the huge wreath from the main boat was slowly lowered overboard and then each boat threw flowers amongst great tootings and whooping from surrounding boats, anything but the somber occasion that we expected. After a very fast tour of the bay (showing off the powerful motor) they dropped us off on the dock with a promise to meet again for the festivities of the evening.

I offered to babysit for the evening knowing that my martyrdom would attract sympathy and babysitting points in the future. We invited Sofia to stay overnight with us to allow Luise and Jeroen to join the party (Jeroen’s brother Sander and his wife Eva were visiting). Sofia was thus Emma’s first ever overnight guest and they were both full of excitement. With fireworks booming and music and singing blasting from the shore, we barely managed to get the kids to bed before 2330! This was after several books and games and some great modeling of Seb and my snorkelling masks (see photos). All of the adults, (excepting myself) took full advantage of the Spanish fiesta and danced until dawn. Two enormous grandstands dominated the village square (approximate population 2700 people so it was a family affair) and from 2230 until 0530 the bands alternated, several scantily clad women (and a couple of men) crooning Spanish melodies and dancing with wildly swinging hips. A great time was had by all (and my time will come).

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