My First (and maybe last) San Isidro!!
(And the end to a perfect friendship!)
By Kimberley Walker
A friend of mine asked me if I had ever been to the San Isidro, the celebration of the patron saint of farmers, land, crops and peasant workers? “No” I said, “Oh!”, he exclaimed, you must go the fiesta is something to be experienced, such colour, tradition, patronage, a real sense of occasion, Spain personified. Well, who could resist such a temptation? He however, had to work and suggested I went with his two daughters. (This was a smart move on his behalf-Hindsight is a wonderful thing!)
I was really looking forward to the event and arrived early, eagerly awaiting the parade. Everyone was excited and my friend (with a slight snigger) waved us all off wishing us a “good time”. Outside the sun was beating down, a perfect day for a fiesta. I was then dragged off into the centre of Nerja towards the Balcon, and I casually enquired why were we heading that way. I was pleasantly informed we were going to walk with the parade. Oh! And exactly where was this parade? I began to feel a slight sweat coming on at the thought of a walk in the mid day sun. “Only Maro”, they said. “Only Maro, you´ve got to be joking”. I thought the delightful children were pulling my leg. Unfortunately not!!! I suggested in a quick thinking moment that maybe we should start in front of the parade so we that we get to see all of it when it arrives, and the children agreed. It was then my sneaky plan to actually catch the bus when we got to the bus station. However, like most good ideas my plan was foiled, because as we approached the bus station the last bus had just left, with lots of happy smiling faces, away from the glare of the sun and heading towards the festival in a comfortable air conditioned manner! And so our trek began. The roles were reversed, every five minutes I kept on at the children begging them “are we nearly there yet?” They seemed completely oblivious to the intense heat and the long monotonous walk, or was it that I had to carry all the bags, therefore taking its toll on me even more? After what seemed like a lifetime, but was probably only an hour, they informed me that we were nearly there. “Thank God”, I thought, I was dying for a drink. “Just this last bit now” they chuckled. I was then confronted with what looked to me like Mount Everest. The day could only get better!
When I eventually made it up the hill, I insisted we sit down and have a well-earned drink and something to eat. Children being children, they wanted a hamburger, but I simply didn´t care at this point, I needed to sit down, drink and replenish the calories I had just lost. I ordered three hamburgers, but they weren´t hamburgers as I know them, they were red raw, cold, and edible to the human form! I subsequently left the food and downed a coke. Surely the day could only get better? I was, nonetheless, still feeling positive about watching the parade.
As we approached the hordes of people waiting in anticipation of the splendour to befall them, I tried in vain to get a space for the children and me, but this was not to be. I spent most of the parade looking at the back of a rather smelly and slightly overweight Spaniard, who either was not aware or did not care that all I could see was the somewhat unpleasant sight of sweat dripping down his back! The children however, had managed to get to the front and saw a little more of the parade than I did. I did hear the gallop of horses at one point, and the man did lift his arm occasionally so I saw fleeting images of colourful carts pulled by what looked like bulls, but who knows! They could have been men in fancy dress for all I knew! My photos were most interesting, consisting mainly of arms, legs and the odd glimpse of something colourful far off in the background.
As the crowd dispersed I looked in vain for the children. I was now beginning to panic, where were they? Just then I saw the little one running off towards the agitated and volatile horses. GREAT! I chased the giggling girl who ran further away, completely unaware of the impending doom of imminent death under the feet of distressed nags. Risking life and limb, I eventually caught her and whisked her to safety. She was not happy, she wanted to stroke the horses, but then nor was I, having just run through a herd of worn out, irritated beasts who seemed to enjoy rearing up to display their prowess! In an attempt to pacify her, I promised that she could go any game she wanted, which turned out to be an annoying catch a floating rubber duck with a bedraggled stick! Couldn´t get bored of the frustration of watching her miss the bloody duck time and time again, and when she eventually got it she won an inane toy with lots of little balls which were instantly lost in the crowd when she opened it. This resulted in copious amounts of tears and another ten minutes watching her trying catch the bloody duck again! It was at this point that alcohol sprang to mind, and I suggested I took them both for a coke. The bars were based around the music, which was so loud it pounded the very soul, and threatened a heart attack at any moment, combined with the always attractive sight if drunken men urinating in the bushes-which the little one found most amusing-and teenagers spewing up on their first experience of the demon drink!
As we wandered back down I hoped they were tired, and after being soaked by some adorable children wielding lethal water pistols, I said enough was enough and we were going home…By Bus!!!
Somehow I returned the children in one piece. “Did you have fun”, sniggered my friend. I calmly counted to ten, and walked away! The day could only get better!