MOCK CASTLES AND MOSQUITOES

 

TRAVEL (LOCAL)

In the Moors and Christians parades there are groups or filaes either Christian or Moor and they fundraise throughout the year to pay for the costumes and bands and props for the battles they fight. Some towns put up mock castles and use boats to arrive and for the parades there are often camels, fire eaters, elephants and dancing girls as well.

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Possibly the most impressive are the horses. The Spanish Riding School you can now see in Vienna and Johannesburg with the Lipizzaner horses came from Spain. During the parade they perform amazing dressage steps dancing on their back legs – which is something not every horse can do. They take your breath away. (I always wear a good pair of shoes when I go to watch, as they come awfully close to my toes).

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HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

Joanna of Castile
JOANNA OF CASTILE

Isabella’s plan to get out of marrying the very elderly Portuguese King Alfonso aged 32, is to say she can’t agree unless the Cortes (sort of parliament) agrees. This is unlikely to happen as they don’t like the Queen and Alfonso is her brother

There follows lots of wrangling and bargaining from opposing sides, which I won’t bore you with except that Henry tries to make the marriage happen by offering his daughter to his half brother. Yet again, for the moment, Isabella escapes marriage as the kingdoms are about to go to war over all this marriage nonsense.

 

 

AFRICA FACTS

I was dismayed when we returned to England for a couple of months to discover that my youngest was telling her new friends that we had lions and tigers walking down the paths outside the mud hut we lived in. (They might have noticed the inconsistencies in this as there are no tigers in Africa). Thing is, they believed her and she thought this hilarious.

Africa is still a dangerous place the heat encourages bacteria and other diseases to grow quickly. The smaller creatures are the most deadly of all.

MOZZIE

Durban had eradicated the anopheles mosquito that carries malaria – though a new strain now attacks the brain and there is a very low recovery rate if you contract that.

We filmed in a laboratory where they bred mosquitoes and I was curious to know how they fed them. Simple. They keep them in old plastic tubs covered with netting.

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They also keep guinea pigs, shave their tummies, and then place them on the netting where they sit happily chewing lettuce leaves as the mozzies dine at the same time below. It doesn’t affect the guinea pigs apparently as they are used in rotation in a perfect symbiotic relationship. As long as they don’t try to shave my tummy!

This and other stories in the Truth, Lies and Propaganda series.

Till next time, take care.

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A SPANISH EPIPHANY

While most of us are taking down the Christmas decorations, here in Spain they are still celebrating. Sunday 6th is the Epiphany when the Magi or 3 Kings arrived to worship the baby Jesus and it’s the night before this that little Spaniards get their paws on the seasonal presents.

In towns all over Spain, they re-enact the scene and it changes a little each year. We live between two small towns so it’s sometimes difficult to decide which fiesta to attend, but we decided to make for the sea this year – we’ll go to the inland one next year.

I feel a bit guilty about this pic but I couldn’t resist it – not so easy to get on your donkey in a long cloak.

 

The inn on the beach was full, but the angel was there to watch over them, while the shepherds took shelter next to the bushes.

Since I was racing around trying to get the shots, I didn’t see the 3 Kings, who’d trekked across the beach to meet Herod, but this year the entertainment did not feature any belly dancing (and I don’t blame them, their goosebumps were the size of molehills the other year).

They were replaced by two juggling uni-cyclists and a fire-eating stilt walker.

The lovely thing about all the fiestas is the whole family takes part, and no one worries about being brained by the little hard-boiled sweets the Kings fling out of their chariot – one town ordered 6 tons of them this year after running out last year when they only ordered 4 tons). They rain down in handfuls of confetti-like killer hailstones and I failed to take an in-focus shot of the children racing in all directions gathering as many as they could. I groveled for a couple so I could share them with you.

The procession winds its way around the town, up and down the narrow streets as it gets dark.

Yes, it’s a real baby! I’m told it’s the most recently born in the village. This year he or she was very well behaved, not even squawking when they turned the floodlights on full blast and let the fireworks off. In total 3 sets of fireworks.

One year when the 3 Kings arrived the baby had been whipped away, possibly to be fed or have its nappy changed.

The same can’t be said for the camel though, it was definitely spoiling for a fight. I am terribly curious as to what was in the sack labeled ‘Produce of Brazil.’

Finally, the Kings took over the stable area, as the Holy Family made a quick exit at the rear, and settled down to dish out the presents.

It was all a bit much for this little one, would they ever call out her name to get a present? Sadly her parents were probably well organized and delivered her present early, so it’s right at the back of the van and will be one of the last to come out.

Just a reminder that if you would like a copy of the first in the Amie series – Amie: African Adventure, then all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter and I’ll be posting the link again in my next issue at the end of the month. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

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Amie reluctantly accompanies her husband when his work takes him to Africa, but a civil war breaks out and when the last plane evacuating all the foreigners takes off, she is left behind to survive any way she can.Amie Back Story v2.1

And you also get the Amie backstories for free, serialized each month. Some of the characters you can meet appear in important roles in book 5 which is a work in progress.

Till next time, take care.

HOPPING BACK HOME FOR OUR SPANISH FIESTA

I thought today for a change I would hop back to Europe and share our local fiesta with you.

Every June for days and days the locals celebrate, not for tourists, but for themselves. They remember the 800 years domination of most of Spain by the Moors from north Africa and since 1990, the culmination at the end of weeks of all kinds of activities, is the Conquista and the Reconquista.

The first night the Moors come over the beach to conquer the castle – a little sad really as we don’t have a proper castle here, only a small lookout tower of fairly recent origin. But this doesn’t bother anyone.

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Sneakily the Moors invade at night under cover of darkness. In theory they arrive by sea, but these days they lurk behind the chiringita (beach bar) on the main strand. The performance begins at 10.30pm, almost our bedtime.

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We know the Christians are in residence, as they skitter along the sand and pop onto the rampart above the rocks just before the Moors arrive.

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The Moors then try to persuade them to give up the castle and take a hike. First they send a demanding note which is theatrically torn to pieces. Next they try the bribery tack, boxes full of gold. No takers. Then come the dancing girls, all four of them, which, if you look at the number lounging around on the battlements, would have to work very hard indeed to keep everyone satisfied. The fire dancers and eater don’t make much impression on the castle residents either. Then they set fire to the cross – sacrilege – and then skilfully cut the throat of one of the Christian women.

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Enter the horses, with battles galore and finally, in exasperation, they all take to the guns.

I don’t think I can post a video on here, but I’ll try on my FB page as the noise is truly terrifying. These are real blunderbusses, and they are filled with real gunpowder and wadding or something and they are really loud. They blast away for a while and frankly, they are lousy shots. The Moors are victorious and as the Christians march out of the castle in go the conquerors.

Eight hundred years is kaleidoscoped into twenty hours as the original inhabitants of our small town come to regain the castle. They arrive in broad daylight at 7pm, no sneaking around for them. They also try the bribery bit, with more dancing girls (I highly suspect it’s the same group from last night, so they must have changed sides earlier in the day – and I’m sure I spied the postmistress from the next village as she’s the belly dancing teacher).

The Moors are less than impressed, although the dancing was excellent. So, if the dancers failed, would the tumbling team (last seen at Benidorm Palace) succeed?

Sadly no, so after the gun-proofed horses have galloped about the beach for a bit fighting with real swords it’s back to the gunfire again and more fireworks.

A few people drop – despite the large number of guns most are really lousy shots, and the Moors give up and vacate the castle and the Christians take possession again. Mind those who have been shot lie for ages on the beach, probably tying not to breathe sand up their noses.

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The third night there is the grand parade, which includes babies in push chairs, toddlers who can just walk, to grandmothers and every age inbetween. It’s a fantastic side of Spanish culture and family. I even noticed some Moors and Christians sharing a pizza after the battle!

I was going to include the procession in this post, but will save it for next week as I now have far too many pictures to include. none of them are brilliant and I apologize. The conditions for the equipment I had were not good, and the subjects had a terrible habit of jiggling around.

If you have a spare moment (this is the grovelling bit) I’d love it if you could vote for Amie an African Adventure in the ReadFree.ly Best Indie Books of 2016 – other category – this is the link – and you can vote 3 times.   http://www.readfree.ly/vote-50-self-published-books-worth-reading-2016-other/

And one other thing. Amie an African Adventure is on at $/£0.99 till midnight tonight – Monday, there seems to be an extra day I was not expecting. This is the link.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K