A port with no beach

La Tahá, a small village high up in the Alpujarra mountains of Granada province and nowhere near the sea, yesterday celebrated the Fiesta del Virgen del Carmen for the first time in half a century.

The festival was held in Pitres, the centre of La Tahá municipality. The municipality, 1,300 metres above sea level, has a population of just 800 people. More importantly, though, it has no access to the sea and the Virgen del Carmen is the protectress of seamen.

The celebration of La Virgen del Carmen stopped during the Civil War but residents are now determined that it will continue to be a tradition in the village.

This curious situation arose, according to local legend, at a time when the residents of Pitres were known as ‘barbarians’ and an influential politician of the time, believed to be Natalio Rivas, posed the question, ‘Barbarians of Pitres. What do you want?’

The reply was, ‘A sea port’.

Again according to legend, Natalio Rivas responded by saying, ‘Granted, you have it’, and La Tahá was symbolically declared a seaport.

This led to the twinning of Pitres with the port of Motril and the municipality of Carchuna donated a boat and an anchor, which is still on display to this day at a crossing in the town known as the ‘Paseo Maritimo’ (The Promenade).

However, as there is no physical beach or port, the homage to the Virgen del Carmen is purely a religious ceremony carried out in front of the effigy.

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