At the moment we are exceedingly busy here in our little village, preparing and doing Christmas workshops, making handicrafts, paper stars, masks of newspaper and flour-paper-glue for the theatre workshop (we will paint them as soon as they are dry), giving children and adults English classes, going to our own Spanish classes and doing homework. The teenagers participating in our workshops can be nerve-racking and undisciplined. But it is getting better already.
Two weeks ago on Friday, Spain was celebrating the Constitution Day and the Mayor of Purchena was holding more or less the same speech about five times for different pupil and student groups in the new town hall. The younger children had to present their wishes and suggestions for the village. The older ones had to simulate a council meeting. We, the volunteers, were fulfilling our task to show them around in the town hall and take pictures.
Saturday until Tuesday, we had four free days and Renata and I went to Murcia, Cartagena and to the beach, together with Francesco, another EVS volunteer from Italy whom we met in Toledo. Murcia is a pretty town in the south-east of Spain, about four hours by bus from Purchena. We visited the stunning Casino, an ancient palace, partly open for the public, partly a Casino. We also went to the cathedral, participated in a guided tour up the tower and ate delicious icecream. In Cartagena, which is located at the seaside, we first went to the roman theatre, then to the castle (with stunning views!), ambled along the seaside promenade at the harbour and had a lunch break with packed salad and pasta from Carrefour supermarket. In the evening – it seems sheer lunacy – we were running into one of the Polish volunteers of our Toledo training on the main street.
During this trip, we especially liked the Christmas decoration and lights in every city and village. It certainly is the nicest I have ever seen. There are Christmas fairs displaying craft works, too, but not comparable to the huge variety of products, specialities and food on the “Weihnachtsmärkten” in Germany. The most spectacular discovery however, were the different “beléns”, the very best in Cartagena, vaguely comparable to Christmas nativity scenes. A belén is an enormously large and detailed landscape made from different materials, including flowers and water, with partly moving and turning wooden figures, presenting (step by step) the Nativity story of the Bible. They are usually beginning with the revelation to Mary and King Herodes´s killing of all newly born babies and ending with the escape to Egypt and life in Nazareth.
Something else that has to be said is how very well dressed Spanish kids are. They do all wear fancy, chic cloths. Every wee lassie wears a pretty skirt or dress and bows or Alice bands or other ornaments in the hair. We were constantly turning our heads around to admire all those little princes and princesses.
On our way back on Tuesday we stopped in a town called Baza to change buses. We decided to go on a discovery tour in the darkness during the hour we had to wait. Very quickly the many black handprints on almost every house caught our attention. Some walls were totally covered by them, looking rather creepy.
The explanation is reassuring and plain. There has been a 500 year dispute between this town and another one called Guadix now celebrated annually on the 6th of November. A “thief” from Guadix comes to Baza with the intention of stealing the statue of Virgin Mary from the church. The inhabitants of Baza cover themselves in pitch from head to toe and then gleefully imprint their black hands and feet on the white walls of their town, while hurling the “thief” into the air and running after him in an attempt of preventing him from departing with the statue.
And now I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!! The next blog entry should be coming before next year.