My regular reader will know how much of a quirk fan I am. Having spent the weekend in Quirktown I am grateful that my mental health training enabled me to diagnose the town’s identity problem, otherwise it might’ve been too much even for me. Is it place of pilgrimage or partyage? The few full-time inhabitants try hard to encourage both. It has to be said tho’ that there are more bars and restaurants than there are shops selling religious souvenirs … and there are plenty of those!
It is believed by many that the statue of the virgin Mary has performed miraculous healings since 1280. There are many Romaria brotherhoods dedicated to the “White Virgin” all over Spain whose members take part in the annual pilgrimage, traditionally arriving in gaudily decorated horse drawn carts and charabancs 50 days after Easter. After processing the statue around the town a lot of imbibing of food and alcohol takes place.
Over recent years the town has expanded; the many brotherhoods no longer all Romaria, more the monied middle class, have built large stables and lodgings and the town has become a weekend venue at which to party, pose and parade. Built on the edge of a nature reserve all the streets are sand, lined with hitching posts and bars at horse height so the “Ooray Enriquez” set don’t have to dismount and risk dirtying their knee-high boots after processing around the town imbibing a lot of food and alcohol!
I found the whole place hilarious from the posh people posing, to the town itself which has ended up looking like the set of a spaghetti western. (Is that Ennio Morricone’s music I hear?)
Envisage the biggest outdoor gig venue you can, and then the multitudes to see the superest of super groups and imagine the traffic that engenders. Now imagine that 2/3rds of that traffic is made up of horse boxes, some are single horse trailers, some horse transporters and some behemoths containing strings of polo ponies, add to that gig and cart trailers, the inevitable tourist coaches and then add in truck loads of 4x4s and some common or garden cars and you may have half an idea of the traffic that took a full day and night to get out of Dodge, or as it’s more formally known, El Rocio.
I stayed a further day before leaving what had become an almost ghost town waiting for the weekend and the next party.
🙂 🙂 🙂