Solemnity & Celebration

The timing of accessing certain events on the island is made more difficult because of the range of time and distance between various parts of the event itself. This is the case, particularly with San Luis Gonzaga, an event celebrating the patron saint of Las Breñas in the highest part of the town and the hills above.

This year, for instance, we had learned that the ceremony would involve a mass in honour of San Luis Gonzaga, street players to entertain spectators who remained at the church whilst the procession carried the statue around the town and into the hills above.

As we had once joined the procession when Femes celebrated its saint was freezing cold, virtually perpendicular and blistering on the heels tonight we thought we would sit outside the church and listen to the folklore bands playing. This was a colourful scene with ladies and gentlemen in local costume and guitars and timples being played with enough gusto to encourage the girls to dance.

We heard several familiar tunes as we sat on the church wall looking two kilometres down to the sea.

Children were running around the mobile food facility for their chips and crepes. Down behind the street players was a huge tent set up with tables and chairs and a large dance floor for entertainment later in the evening.

We have enjoyed many such nights as these and been made welcome by Spanish people we don´t know on every occasion so our plan tonight was not to follow the opening procession, nor to attend the after-event social dancing. We were here instead to attend a short showcase concert by Yaiza Ladies Choir, and to be honest we timed it all pretty well.

Or so we thought!

We arrived at the right time but all car parking spaces within a square kilometre were taken so we had to crawl up the hills beyond the town.

Eventually we saw just enough space to park our car at the side of the road and set off walking down the hills a lot more quickly than we had driven up them. I took my seat on the church wall as Dee went to take photographs. She looked in at the church and saw the mass was still taking place and that the statue had not been removed from its plinth. Eventually after we had enjoyed listening to the street musicians the procession began from the church and people set off following round the town.

We listened to a lot of songs that we now know and enjoy and think of in the same way as we do of the important songs in our English culture.  The advertised fireworks that signalled the departure of the procession were simply loud explosives and they later signalled the return.

All that remained was for the statue to be returned to its normal position, and that would allow the ladies of Yaiza Choir to perform and we knew this would be a treat for us because the choir contained three of the yoginis, who starred in our adventure at the Ghost Hotel last week.

The ladies all looked very elegant in black and pulled off the clever trick of celebrating with due solemnity. Their choice of material was perfect, their delivery of harmony was exquisite and they communicated their enjoyment of performing to their audience. Nuvi Tavio has brought the choir a long way in her years as the Musical Director. There is now, it seems, a larger membership than we have seen in recent appearances and certainly a greater range of sound and a very evident confidence. The programme consisted of mainly secular music with the highlight, among many, being an exquisite delivery of Gabriel Faure’s Pie Jesu, to which Andrew Lloyd Weber added modern lyrics some forty years ago.

So, we said goodbye to our friends and climbed back up the hill and drove down around the church and the street players and the dance tents and down to the LZ2 and headed home accompanied by an (allegedly) strawberry moon bob bob bobbing from mountain top to mountain top and out over the sea.

I was particularly happy by now as I was going to be home in time to see the evening’s European Championship match. However, this dual nationality we try to adhere to could be severely tested if England should come against Spain!