06 May 2013

Patron huh?

I live in a village in Spain. Friday was patron saint day in the village. I had no idea what that meant. I came home from work and took the two Spanish dogs that live with me for a walk. Before we left, I noticed that little local cathedral bells were going off at an unusual time and at an unusual level of volume.

We walked toward our usual dirt track on the edge of town which is along a ridge of hills. The intensity of the bells from the cathedral was so loud that it bounced off the hills and sounded as if the hills actually were ringing bells. It was a startling acoustic sensation and I actually stopped to look in case there was something there.

Since the bells were continuing for such a long time, I decided to veer off our dirt path into the village main streets just to see if there was anything to see. I don't really know what patron saint day means but I figured something was going on nearby.

I reached a main roundabout that converges five roads and has flags from the Madrid region, the EU, the village, etc. As I crossed the big road on the red elevated crosswalk, I noticed that loads of people, surely the whole village, was walking uphill toward the cathedral. They were converging here at the round about taking the calle to the church. They were all dressed up, like wedding in Spain dressed up which is serious. Lots of high heels, dresses, the men all had on suits. My jeans and two dogs got some dirty looks from the older ladies, so I decided to walk across them and go another way rather than join the stream.

I worked my way uphill in the village thinking I'd get above the cathedral and look down on the crowd. Meanwhile the bells are still going. People were driving into the tiny side streets searching for parking and frantically putting on suit coats as they trotted down to the church. When you are from a village in Spain or your family is from a village, you come back for important days. Looks like Patron Saint day is one of them.

I was startled to see an older lady with a cane not dressed up and wandering around like me. I said the customary "hola" but as I chose my cross street she stopped me. Over the bells, she hollered in my ear about not wanting to go that way or I'd end up right in front of the entire "public." She asked me where I lived.

For some reason, I find this hard to explain in the village. Of course I know my street address, but people tend to say by areas. I can't seem to memorize mine - I've never seen it written out since it's sort of local slang. I always try to say I live by the park. The park is Arroyo de Tesoro. Treasure brook, I suppose would be a translation. I'd call it wild cat, ditch with water-sometimes park. Well, I managed to croak out, "treasure." She says where? I say "By the park, treasure park." I can really freeze up in Spanish and sound like an idiot. She got the idea and told me to go down and turn the other way. I obeyed. It seemed best even though I wanted to see what was going on.

I was by the stinky trashcans by the fish shop when another family crossed in front of me. One woman had a Muslim head covering and style of dress but could easily have been Spanish from her appearance. The rest of the family was in jeans and regular Spanish whatever Friday afternoon clothes. Then I noticed they're speaking Arabic. Okay, nobody in our village does that and we're a long way from downtown Madrid.

The bells stop and fire works start exploding up by the church. The two dogs start trotting and as the fireworks escalate, they are dragging me two-horse team style down the street toward home. We did make it safely if somewhat surreal-y.

I decided to walk to the grocery shop for some diet coke. At the round about by the stinky trash cans, I see that all these dressed up people I saw before are marching behind a procession statue of Jesus on the cross. So I walked up to where they are stopped by the bank. When I get close, they have stopped the procession and all the dressed up people who have babies are trying to balance them on the side of the statue platform and take their pictures. So this is really unusual for a girl from Kansas, and terribly interesting, so I whip out my camera and take pictures and then decide to do a video.

I'm panning the crowd and the music starts and I realize I'm filming my neighbors. Nice one. The weird American neighbor lady who doesn't know how to behave appropriately. How many times have you seen a neighbor going down the street and  you stop to take their picture? Hmmm. Going to chalk this up to a very interesting cultural learning day.
Can you see the babies being held up there on the right?

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