The Drums of Semana Santa

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This past month has been a whirlwind adventure, with two trips to the states, three swim meets and other excursions throughout Spain. I have not had the time to sit down and fully recount all that has happened, and hope to start to bridge the gap. Although these posts are late, I am still just as thrilled to share my experiences in Calasparra, Murcia during Semana Santa.

 

Semana Santa is directly translated as Holy Week. Each day there are different activities, which as we draw nearer to Easter Sunday, include more civic participation in the form of processions.

 

I traveled to Calasparra, the hometown of my roommate, Rocio, to experience how a small “pueblo” (town) celebrates these activities. From Madrid it only takes 3.5 hours by car to get to Calasparra. However, since I do not have my own car I hitched a ride through the start-up Blablacar, which connects passengers with drivers, to ease transportation throughout Europe. Since we all know I love being driven around, this is the perfect set up for me. Especially, since I was in the backseat and could easily gaze at the rolling hills and not be bothered for conversation. My driver dropped me off at the local gas station, outside of town, where I was greeted by Rocio, her sister Leo, her boyfriend and another friend.

 

Once in the car, I was told that we were traveling to Moratalla, another small town near Rocio’s where they are known for a particular drum procession on Holy Thursday that they thought I would enjoy.

 

As we drew near the city, they started to warn me that they dressed in funny robes and that it was utter chaos with each man beating to his own rhythm (They were more concerned about the noise than the outfits!). My first exposure to the “funny” robes, which appear like the KKK attire, was a bronze statue placed at the entrance of the city. I believe that they are called Capuchines but I cannot find an official reference to this name. Needless to say, I was rather shocked to see the multicolored robes roaming through the streets, that instictively reminded me of terrible time in my own country’s history.

 

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This procession is unlike any of the others that I saw in the sense that it was not officially organized. Everyone dressed in his or her particular robe, with a drum slung around one shoulder falling in front of the waist. What I found most particular is that each played to his or her rhythm, but there was a unifying beat that arose throughout the afternoon. I was offered the chance to play, and wrongly assumed that I too, could produce this universal sound. Instead I sounded like a poor toddler banging on the kitchen pot that was thankfully drowned out by the other people. Rocio and Leo also tried their hand a playing, but they are much more gifted bangers than I am.

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When you are not playing a drum you are drinking and/or eating. All of the bars are open to serve different small plates and beer or wine, which they have placed in tents in front of their store. Part of the fun is moving from each little tent along the main path and savoring different treats.

 

 

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However, at some point you need to escape from the craziness, and thankfully, Rocio took me on a tour of the town, which can be seen throughout the following photos. As soon as we climbed the stairs to the top of the hill the echoes of the drums faded away.

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Finally, we all met back up at a local bar where we danced the afternoon away to great music.

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Much later, we headed to Calasparra to meet the some of Rocio’s family, namely her lovely parents and brother Sebas (who you will see in the photos below). Her mother prepared us an amazing dinner, which can be seen below. Many of the dishes were traditional to the region, which is one of the agricultural centers of Spain and therefore, we had lots of fresh produce. Here you can see the tortilla with habas, habas (which are the green bean we used as mustaches), a fresh salmon salad and other delicious goodies. After gorging ourselves on good food we headed out to the strip to see some of Rocio’s colleagues before the activities of the next morning.

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