Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Whirlwind Spanish Tour

A blast from the past (in the form of musician Paul Gomez) came and transplanted me to the mountains and valleys of Spain. From El Molar to Alcobendas and from Madrid to San Sebastián de los Reyes we marched a merry way-bringing music from Erin's green shore to arid Spanish planes. We ran the gamut of venues: from caves nestled cosily into mountains, to tents on the sides of motorways in the urban sprawl of Madrid.

Live in "The Cave Of The Wolf!" John Meskel, Myself, and Paul Gomez
Bullfighting and a religious procession were also part of the bargain, though thankfully we didn't have to play music at either! España Cañi is a term that is probably translated best as "Folkloric Spain" and that is certainly what was experienced in the course of our travels.

La Taberna Marinera

Bullfighting, El Molar
The bullfighting is something I'm unlikely to forget anytime soon. I was between two minds as to whether I should go at-all, but in the end I gritted my teeth and said "if I've never experienced it I can't really have a proper opinion of it." After attending the saturday afternoon bullfight on the outskirts of El Molar, I can honestly say bullfighting is not for me, and neither do I think it is something that should still be practiced in 21st century Spain. After seeing the fifth bull butchered I'd had enough and we made a quick exit. To see each bull's stomach muscles repeatedly clench after it was pierced by the pica (like any humans would) was a hard sight to behold. I was told the particular bullfight I was witnessing was decidedly amateur-the bullfighters were student matadors, so hadn't the same skill to cleanly kill the bull as those of more experience would have had. Amateur or not, "the bulls" of "bullfighting" are cruelly killed in a strange and slow pageantry. A band play in the middle of it all- the trumpets burst and the drums roll, sounding the poor animal's long death knell.

 La Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Remolino

On the last day of our visit I followed the statue of "The Virgin Of The Whirlwind" as she made a small tour of the environs around the church she calls home. The statue was brought from "La Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Remolino" in procession around the vicinity, before being moved to another location further up in the mountains.  This occurred in May just before the heat of summer, through a lush and still verdant Spanish valley. Lola, whose grandson was one of the pole-bearers, was my guide. In the evening sun we slowly strolled along as the Virgin completed her small tour. The whole community was camped and parked wherever they could find a space. People took the day to relax, eat and drink, some then followed the procession around the valley. Later that evening, Lola recounted some of the history of La Virgin Del Remolino to me again...