Ilivetolearn's Blog

April 20, 2006

Easter week in Granada

Filed under: on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 3:01 pm

Our sojourn in Granada this time (April 12 to 14) was very different. Warmer, of course. Not raining. And, because it was Semana Santa, very crowded. We missed out on all the cheap central hotels and ended up in a characterless recently-built boxy thing, which was at least quiet and within a (long) walk of the areas where all the processions took place. Its best feature, a swimming pool and hot tub on the roof with a great view of the Sierra Nevada, was closed for the winter.

This being Andalusia, famous for its Easter hoop-de-do, there were processions every day of Holy Week–so many that the city put out a booklet listing them, with maps and suggestions for places to watch. We studied it carefully and then just followed the crowds and sounds of triumphal/dirgelike music badly played. The musicianship of the marchers is not the main attraction.

At one point we happened upon a door into the cathedral that was being opened, and a ramp put in place, and stayed put until we were rewarded with front-row views of the entire parade. The girls were squished right up against the metal barriers, while the adults backed away into the throng of folks holding their cell phones over their heads for photos. There were dozens of penitents (including children) in many colors of hooded robes, then people swinging incense holders (the whole area began to smell like what my childhood Catholic friends used to call the stink mass) or carrying lighted tapers the size of baseball bats, then the aforementioned musicians, then the life-size statue of Jesus on the cross, on a platform decorated with thousands of irises borne on the shoulders of about twenty men. What a spectacle.

On another day, we watched a statue of Mary go by, under an elaborate canopy behind rows of candles in huge silver holders. When we flipped on the TV at the hotel, they were showing processions in other cities—not unlike Thanksgiving in the US, when you can watch other people braving the crowds in New York or Philadelphia. I was sure I saw the very same Mary who had just passed us, with her rosary swinging from her hands, until the caption on the screen told me it was in Huelva.

I wonder if Andalusian cities are the only ones in the world that have official roadsigns warning motorists of wax on the pavement?

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