Don’t get me wrong. I love Semana Santa. Or did anyway. Especialy the first time I saw it, even the second and third times I thought it was pretty surreal. I've seen it in big cities like Seville and Malaga. I've seen it in small towns like Almunecar, and Loja. I loved the anonymity, the incense smell, the costumes and the sheer physical exertion from everyone from the nazarenos to the costeleros. In fact, I wrote a chapter on what I believe is really special about Semana Santa in Inside the tortilla. You can check out the photographic version in this weeks free ePub and PDF give-a-way: An Agnostic in Semana Santa and get a FREE CUT OUT DOLL'S at the same time too! See below for links.
But you see, after a few years things tend to change. Some people in town - that I had previously thought to be afficionados of all things religious - turned out to be Semana Santa haters and one evening, they sat me down and gave me 5 persuasive reasons for fleeing Spain during Semana Santa.
5 Reasons Semana Santa Sucks
Easter for many people comes as a well earned holiday. They are looking forward to a break, a rest and a chance to relax and sleep in. Well, forget that because from dawn to madrugada (early the following day) expect brass bands, marching feet, obsessive drummers, endless chiming bells, the screech of tyres on wax and the unexpected saeta from a neighbours balcony - just as your head hits the pillow. And don't think that because one paso (float) has just passed by you can safely nip off for a kip. Like red buses in London, once one passes by, you can expect at least half a dozen to be close behind.
2: Vexed Vehicles
Want to park outside your house? Forget it.
Want to drop off that shopping, the baby carriage, the abuelos, that sack of dog food? Forget it. Your street most likely will be cut off for the entire week and if you don't move your car, don't expect it to still be where you left it. Its more than likely to have been towed 2 km down the road and dumped in a ditch to keep it out of way of the all important processions.
Like to have spaces and air to breathe? Well, forget it. Learn to go without for a week if you live in the centre of town, because 2 hours before every paso approaches your house, crowds begin to assemble loosely in the middle of the street. Then, as more people arrive, they pack out to the sides like sardines, finally squeezing onto your doorstep, into your lobby, up your stairs and onto your balcony should you leave the door ajar. This if course can be very sociable act, it can of course also be very stupid as half the town find themselves wandering around your house smoking, eating churros and tapping into your wifi.
4: Waxy Streets
Should you be a part time trapeze artist, high wire-walker, stilt-walker or Master of Tai Chi, then you'll probably cope with the streets. Otherwise, expect to live on what amounts to be an ice skating rink for a week - or longer - as thousands of candle bearers attempt to create their own Jackson Pollock outside your front door whilst waiting for the rest of the procession to catch up. Take care, particular early morning as the bombona van slides, rather than drives, around town. Be ready for that quick side step to avoid a certain crushing early morning feeling.
5: Personal Pride
If you are the sort that doesn't mind the politicians, dignitaries, church types and fussy neighbours to stand outside your house and point out the gathering dust on your persianas, the rather dry looking tubs of earth in which once lived flowers on the balcony, or the number of bushes that appear to have sprouted beneath the clay tiles on your roof, then you’ll be fine. If however, having the collective scorn of the town focussed on your facade for an entire week sends shivers up your chocolate con churros, then skip town ASAP. Believe me, you won't be the only one given the number of vehicles on Spanish motorways heading abroad over Easter.
And Now: The Great Semana Santa Give-a-way!