Thursday, June 08, 2006

Los Moros y Cristianos

The Moors and Christians is a fine old traditional fiesta which dates all the way back to 1988 when somebody decided to dress up as a Moor – a north African warrior – and following this sartorial decision went on a three day bender in Mojácar, finally waking up in the holding cell of the Almería immigration Police where only a bent and slightly moist Spanish identity card stood between the hung-over celebrant and a one-way trip to Casablanca.
His shoe-prints can still be found on the inside back door of the Mojácar paddy-wagon, next to the dent caused by Peter Honey’s head as he engineered his daring escape on a steep hill approaching the Huercal Overa hospital after being taken, unconscious and just in time, from the gentlemen’s lavatory located, vaguely speaking, somewhere behind the Bar Indalo.
Times change, and now thousands of people will dress up as Moors (a sheet, a pair of slippers and a readily available ID card being the main features) or as Christians, where an all-weather suit, an orange tie, brogues and a trilby hat is the obligatory dress. It's theoretically the celebration of an agreement made over a glass of blackberry juice in 1488 by the local mayor (a Moor) and the leader of the besieging Christian forces who was anxious to carry on towards Granada (where you could get a decent beer).
The three-day jag ends on Sunday afternoon (June 11th) with an endless procession through the main square of our town and off, away down the hill to the awaiting busses below. Six well-represented guilds, in full and exquisite costume, will make the march-past, with a ambulatory band between each one to keep the peace and provide musical refreshment for those onlookers too foolish to have found shade and shelter in one of our agreeable if slightly over-priced bars. Although no tomatoes are thrown, no bulls are loosed and the paella has usually all gone by the time you’ve found a plastic plate and scraped it clean, the Moors and Christians is a festival that is certainly worth visiting.
Tell them I sent you.

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