procesiones de La Pasion, Ibiza

April 14, 2009

Here is some information on the Easter parades as Spain knows it. No Judy Garland here! Carlo and I found ourselves a nice curbside table, has tapas and enjoyed the prosession To the solemn, persistent beat of a single drum, hundreds of men wearing pointed hoods that cover their faces parade through narrow streets bearing huge crucifixes, whilst women dressed in black stand silently and watch. This is the Deep South, not of America but of Spain, where unique Easter processions will soon get underway. To be in Spain at Easter is to witness a series of ancient rituals that go to the heart of a country with a fiercely religious history.

Whilst it is claimed that Spain is sliding into secularism and its youngsters are largely ignoring their Roman Catholic backgrounds, in Holy Week or Semana Santa, there is not a village or city that is untouched by some form of public display to mark the predominant church’s most important feast: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And the further south you go the more elaborate and passionate are the parades. Pointed hoods, reminiscent of those worn by the Klu Klux Klan are used by members of the parades and are said to represent penitents too shamed by the crucifixion to show their faces. From these hooded penitents who march to the solemn beat of a single drum on Good Friday, to the joyous celebrations and church services of Easter Sunday a week later, the streets resound to the sounds of historic ceremonies that have marked this holy time for centuries.

Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramas), which falls on April 9 this year, sees the start of Holy Week when most churches will organise a parade to mark the arrival of Christ into Jerusalem. Instead of the small crosses fashioned from part of a single palm frond that are popular in many Protestant churches, the congregations in Spain carry huge, leafy palm or olive branches that have been blessed in the church.

After this fairly upbeat day the mood takes an altogether more sombre turn for the rest of the week. In many towns there will be daily parades every evening starting at the parish church from where one of the huge wooden statues that usually rests in a side chapel will be carried through the streets to solemn music.

Many places indulge in rituals specific to their town and seen nowhere else, some more extreme than others. In San Vicente de Sonsierra in Rioja a form of flagellation is still carried out on Good Friday by one of the religious brotherhoods, and although technically outlawed, it draws crowds of onlookers every year. In Valverde de la Vera, in Caceres, men wearing crowns made out of thorny branches walk in bare feet along a symbolic path to Calvary with their arms tied to a wooden bar on to which heavy swords are hung. Whilst in Madrid, people dressed in the medieval garb of penitents, including iron shackles, carry one of the images from the church around the city.

But it is in Seville, in Andalucía, where the most famous Easter celebrations take place. Seville has a total of 52 religious brotherhoods whose members take part in parades that start at first light each day and continue until three and four in the morning. The origins of these brotherhoods are said to date back from as early as the 13th century when they were bands of men organised to rescue the wounded from battlefields during the re-conquest of Spain from the Moors.

Each brotherhood has its own penitents’ garb, which varies from rich satin and brocade to sombre black. Carrying ornately-carved wooden floats, that date from the 17th century and weigh up to 2000 kilos, these hooded men march through the town accompanied by a band playing drums and trumpets to end their journey in solemn silence in the massive Gothic cathedral.

As the passion of the crucifixion gives way to the celebration of Easter Sunday, the mood changes to one of jubilation; the floats are covered with flowers, traditional sweet cakes such as monas, torrijas and pestihos are eaten and the final parades are played out to triumphant music.

The Traveling adventure in Spain

April 4, 2009

I thought I would take a moment to check in. For those of you that haven’t heard, I decided to take a trip to Italy and Spain for a month while Obama fixed our economy….he said he didn’t need my help. Plus, I will be 50 yrs old in May!  I have packed a lot of life and death in the last three years and am now feeling like a new 40.

I have been getting loads of e-mails about the earthquake. However,we are actually in spain and the quake happened about 500 miles from his home in Italy.

Closer to Rome but a tragedy non the less. We were in an Italian restaurant ( in spain) when Carlo heard it on the radio. It was interesting to watch his reaction and then to see him relax when he realized it was nowhere close to home.

On the other side of the world, remember I am 9 hours ahead of California time, 7 hours ahead Chicago time and 6 hours ahead East Coast time. So the best way to communicate is via e-mail, or skype….

I had a great 24 hours with Peg in Chicago after leaving SFO.  Thanks again for the ride to Marin Airporter Linda and george and for storing my car. Once I arrived in Chicago, Peg, my sister and I talked, ate and shopped. Both Peg, Nano and I are Prosche Powershoppers and obviously have the requisite DNA strand. To prove it, I managed to find a short raincoat, scarf and an adorable blazer for my travel and I was able to pack it all into 13.5Kilos or 30 lbs. I flew from Chicago to Madrid and my plane landed 1 hour late.

The massive three year old futuristic Madrid airport is so big that when I disembarked into the enormous hollow womb of glass and steel the kiosks told me how long it would take to get to my connecting gate. EG: gate 64 -35 minutes. That would be 35 minutes walking time with no personnel in site. No way was I even remotely going to make my connecting flight. With the help of a fast talking Spanish ticket agent, I was able to reach Carlo on her phone before he left to pick me up and he suggested I re-book, go and act like a VIP and find a lounge.  Well……Somehow, I did.

OMG! What a way to spend 5 hours. Free internet, Free champagne ( the first thing I did) Free Food, Free shower ( the last thing I did before losing my new ipod after I fell asleep and almost missed my next flight) Carlo is teaching me many things about international travel and business. This one was a gem.

I arrived in Venice and after picking me up, Carlo took me for pizza in Treviso.  (please excuse any Italian or spanish misspellings until I canproperly take the time to correct it all ) He lives in Montebelluna, NW of Treviso. check it out.,+Italy&oe=utf-8&rls=FlockInc.:en-US:official&client=firefox&um=1&ie=UTF-8&split=0&gl=es&ei=V07aSfvmM-XLjAfqzYGWDQ&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1(

(It is amazing how the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas captured the street lighting perfectly!) He was comfy and welcoming in his familiar country surroundings. His mommas home is 13 rooms big and cold. The heater was not working so no shower either. The home construction is solid.  I mean really solid, in marble, oak and double pane glass with blinds embedded between. The home was built in the 50’s and he grew up in a very conservative 1 church suburban neighborhood. The perfect place to keep a wild boy contained along with two sisters, grandma, aunt and mommy until he fled at age 17. Lots of female energy which explains alot.

We got up the next morning and drove 3 hours to Milan in the rain.  ( It looks just like Napa! except they are the Dolomite Foothills) to the airport. We managed to get to Ibiza on Thursday evening and I didn’t feel normal until Yesterday, Saturday evening, a full three days from leaving US. ( Note to self: Wait three days before opening mouth when traveling internationally)

We are now having a glorious time. It is working perfectly. Carlo is teaching me about business, website building, traveling internationally, money exchanging, budgeting, and fun. In return he gets my wonderful companionship, humor, love, English correction and excellent communication skills.
We are staying in a 5 star, Eco designer hotel which he managed to get for an amazing deal. check out the junior suite) He is annoyingly talented in all things money and basically everything involving his creative mind..hence the annoyance. We are on budget with spending $25 a day. We work on the internet in the morning. We break for a big lunch around 1pm. Do a little grocery shopping for a small evening meal consisting mostly of salad greens and carrots that tuck into our smallish refrigerator. After that, take a siesta poolside and then he goes to class in the evening and I am here building my web site, writing for Sherri, learning spanish, italian and getting all the other research things done that I have not had a opportunity to do. When he returns around 9ish, we have a little glass of wine, greens, read or watch a movie –

I will probably find a disco one of these nights without him and also a little solo hiking at sunrise. Believe it or not, he is more of a homebody than I. We split everything down the middle. I get my alone time in the Am or PM, he gets his education and then all my attention and we are happy campers. The weather has been coolish but sunny. The polkadot bikini has not seen the public eye just yet and by the looks of things on the beach, only the bottoms will actually find the ocean sand.

I am very glad I chose to take this next adventure and thank you for all your encouragement. I am learning tons about being an independent woman in an international world.

Promise of his mommas homemade lasagna?  PRICELESS

much love

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