Walking over olives - a few months in Andalucia

Trip Start Jan 01, 1999
Trip End Jan 01, 2009

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, December 30, 2010

I was going to use Driving over Lemons as a title but that has apparently already been taken, plus we haven't seen any lemons here so far, but more olives than Pizza Hut would use worldwide in 10 years!

Fortunate enough to be offered the use of a house in a village in Andalucia by Carolyn's Great Aunt and Uncle, we jumped at the chance and, shortly afterwards, we were on a plane to Malaga. Forty kilometres north of Malaga and 40 minutes later we arrived in Villanueva del Trabuco, a small town/large village set in the mountains of Andalucia. Having only visited Madrid and Barcelona before we weren't exactly sure what to expect, but we're very pleasantly surprised.

The purpose of this trip is twofold. Firstly, to discover more about the area and it's potential as a permanent home for Carolyn and I and, secondly to re-learn the Spanish we studied so hard in Peru and lost so quickly upon our return to the U.K., before we return to that amazing continent of South America next year. This blog is intended to be a record of our time in here in Trabuco and the other places we intend to visit in Andalucia and possibly elsewhere in Spain.

We were extremely lucky to arrive in town a couple of days before the start of the fiesta for Santa Delores, which, is the biggest celebration of the year and continues for around 5 days. I have no idea who Delores was, but I am sure I will find out before too long as images of her are everywhere. The main plaza has been covered over and has been decked out with lights and decorations and is full of tables and chairs for the party which begins in earnest on Wednesday.

The party kicks off each day with music on a couple of stages set up in the square. Musicians of all types and ages play a wide variety of music from tradition Spanish folk and Flamenco to jazz and pop and salsa. Everyone from nine to ninety is up on their feet dancing or, at least they are when they are not eating and drinking! These people really know how to have a good time.

The music goes on until 3 or 4 each following morning and I really don't know where the people get their energy from. By about 4.00 am we get off to sleep only to be woken again about 7.00 am when the music starts again, presumably the cleaners enjoy some music while they work?

Throughout each day, the rocket man as we have dubbed him, wanders around the village, firing off crow-scarer rockets to let people know when each new event is starting. The first time we experienced this we were sitting on the roof terrace as a rocket exploded in the sky above us. Disconcerting enough in the middle of the afternoon but really heart stopping when you are not expecting it at one in the morning! We eventually get used to it. Well sort of..

One of the things we immediately notice here is the food. It is relatively inexpensive to eat out hear if sticking to the "Menu del Dia" which costs anywhere between €7 and €11 for primero and segundo courses plus desert and a drink and represents excellent value for money and, with four or five choices for each course, quite a lot of variety.

Shopping in the local shops, markets and supermarkets is equally rewarding as the quality of the vegetables, fruit and fish is amazing and cheap, at least by comparison with the UK. The fish particularly is incredibly good value when compared with back home, possibly because we export most of our fish here? The varieties on offer in the market seem to change daily. So far we have sampled Tuna, Swordfish, Eel, giant prawns all purchased in the local market. Our Sunday lunch at a local restaurant consisted of salad, the ubiquitous Paella and the most amazing platter of fried fish I have ever tasted which included salmon, prawns, squid, octopus, clams, all cooked to perfection.

On Saturday the fiesta reaches its climax with a fancy dress parade in which the whole town seems to be participating. There is certainly a very strong feeling of community here. Entrants, in the parade range from sweet little girls and boys in what I presume to be national costume, to some very convincing, cross dressing, middle aged men, to the cast of Grease, Snow White and her dwarves and even some, very current, Angry Birds and Hello Kitty's . The entire parade take about an hour to go by and then they just go around again, and again...

Sunday sees the final day of the parade and the more religious side of the fiesta takes over, starting with everyone heading off to church in their Sunday best in the morning. Early evening sees the main parade of the fiesta where the statue of Santa Delores is carried from the church right around the town by around thirty of Trabuco's fittest men. The palanquin on which it is carried, seemed incredibly heavy an observation borne out by the number of rest stops the men have to make along the way! The rest stops, I am sure are well deserved considering they will be doing this for several hours. I imagine that their discomfort will be more than matched by the young women of the town who are following them in their Sunday finery an essential part of which appears to be a minimum of 4 inch heels. A lot of people are going to need foot and shoulder rubs in the morning.. The parade is accompanied by a brass band playing some up tempo music which makes it all a little reminiscent of one of those jazz funerals in New Orleans. All in all a fitting end to the fiesta, or so we thought...

We go to bed around 11.30 only to be awakened at midnight by a series of explosions. We climb up to the roof terrace to watch a spectacular display of fireworks above the town. A fitting end to a great fiesta. It has been a great first week in Spain and we are so glad that Sue and Rob more or less insisted that we be here for the fiesta.
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