Monday, 25 April 2011

Semana Santa in Cartagena ..... April 2011

Locals in folk costume on Patron Saints Day
15 - 25 April 2011

The yearly Easter celebrations in Cartagena start with Viernes de Dolores, Day of the Patrona, on the Friday before Palm Sunday. 

At 5pm, thousands of locals gather in the main Plaza to take part in the Ofrenda floral, a colourful procession in which families dress in folk costume, carrying bouquets of flowers, and walk through the streets then give their floral offerings to the towns patron saint.

From then on the parades/processions were a daily occurence, right through until Easter Sunday. 
More colourful local costumes on
 Cartagena Patron Saint Day

The first night for us was the most powerful, as hundreds of townspeople marched the narrow streets, some wearing plush red velvet cloaks, many with the hoods up.  They were interspersed by equally as many processioners in blood red long satin robes, rustling as they went by, their heads and faces covered by what I could only describe as a Klu Klux Klan hood, with the tall pointy top and slits for their eyes.  Not a word was spoken, and sitting there watching this solemn mass of people slowly walk by, the scent of inscense in the air, the drums pounding in the distant, it was a powerful - almost scary scene.
The first had the most impact on us

On each night leading up to Easter Sunday the processions would generally start at 9pm (it's still light here now until around 9.20pm) and most of the time they would last at least 2 hours, some longer.  One evening all the town lights were extinguished and the processions were by candlelit, affording an even more sombre  mood. 

Of course, as with most things, once you have seen a couple of 2 or 3 hour processions, they do start to look rather the same.  There were certainly many different costumes, and each night there would also be a parade of floats, often carried by over a hundred men or women.  They depicted the different stages leading up to resurrection of Christ.

It was great to be here and experience this week of celebrations.  We also had some "down under" company during this time.  Phil and Margaret off the Australian trawler Argos were in port, after wintering in Barcelona.  We wintered in Marmaris with them in 2008, and first saw them way back in 2005.  It was great to have some friends in town, even for just a few days.

Evening processions took place every night for a week
Today is Easter Monday, it is not a holiday here which we find rather strange, but after so many days of a festive atmosphere maybe they are all worn out and eager to get back to their normal lives again.  We are still at a loss as to when the Spaniards actually sleep, after being in Spain now for 7 months we still can't get used to the times things happen.  Restaurants not opening until 9pm - then not getting busy till around 10.30pm is still so foreign to us.  The opening hours for businesses and retail is an ongoing mystery, with many, but not all, observing a daily siesta.  Sundays are still a day of rest, cafes and bars are open but nothing else here is.  But on a fine Sunday, after church, the squares and waterfront are crowded with families and friends out strolling, promenading, chatting, children playing - enjoying their leisure time without any outside distractions.
There were many hundreds dressed like this

The "to do" list is all done, sure there are still more jobs that would be good to do (have to save something for next year) but Balvenie is now looking the best she has since we bought her.  We have endless new systems installed and it is nearly time to untie the docklines, get out there and test all our work and set sail for another season,

We have loved our time in the Med and very much enjoyed Europe but Balvenie is straining at her lines as once again the western horizon calls we go along for the ride !!

(for more photos of the parades click here )

Friday, 8 April 2011

Still in Spain, Still working on Balvenie ….. Apr 2011

Filling up the gas is not so straight
forward round these parts.  
 We bought a special adaptor and
purchased a local  camping gaz bottle,
 then Skipper ties it upside down to the
anchor and it drains into our NZ bottle,
 gets there - eventually!!!
 01 – 08 April 2011

April has arrived, it has brought with it “European Summer Time”, warmer weather, the return of the Cruise ships, transient yachts going east, a steady trickle of sailors returning to their yachts that have been unattended over winter, and even a few unwelcome mosquitoes.

The days are getting warmer, April 1st being a real scorcher – a taste of things to come.  The evenings are certainly drawing out with darkness falling after 9pm but the mornings are dark till around 7.45am, great excuse to stay tucked up in bed. 

The ever present list of boat jobs jumps out at us each morning, demanding our ongoing attention but finally we are down to the "nice to haves" rather than the "must do".  So most of our jobs now are cosmetic, all the varnishing is finished, both bathrooms totally refurbished and looking so good, new mosquito nets made to keep out all the irritating buzzies during the long hot days of summer, endless small sewing repairs completed, we are looking good.

Now that there is seldom any morning dew, the painting has begun. We first started painting Balvenie in Turkey, repainting the top of the cabin top. Then last winter in Malta we continued and did the sides of the cabin top (with their countless portholes), all the hard dodger and the aft cabin top. This year we will complete all the outside areas, with the stern/sugar scoop area of the boat being the first to attract our attention.
The sugar scoop with the first coat of primer on,
 looking much better already

It's a big job, we remove (unscrew) everything we can, sand it all back, fill any holes, sand again, refill, and keep sanding until we are happy with the finish,  then mask everything up - ready to paint.  First day we put on the 1st coat of primer, next day it's the 2nd primer coat, then daily it is followed by 2 coats of the 3 part epoxy finishing coat.  The finishing coat gets rolled on with a tiny roller and then tipped with a brush to remove any bubbles, it creates an excellent finish.   If it needs non skid, well that's another day, then another finishing coat on top of that.  We need good weather, any rain at all ruins it and dust kicked up by wind is definitely not welcome.  We need to finish the painting by 1pm to give it all time to harden, just in case a dew settles overnight, because if a dew comes down is ruins the finish of that coat - this is not a good thing!!   Wish us luck ...............