Zipfelmützen at Semana Santa

(Zipfelmützen translation: pointy hats – like the ones gnomes wear)
Finally on Easter Sunday I saw my share of hooded Semana Santa procession participants. We met up with Sabine, a friend of mine from high school who has been living in Malaga for 10 years and for all practical purposes is a local, and her partner Paco, who is a local for all purposes. They took us downtown where the final procession of Semana Santa, in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, happened. By all accounts the Easter Sunday procession is the smallest and the only one happening during daytime which strikes me as a bit funny, they celebrate the death of Jesus and go to considerable length to do so and then sort of casually glance over resurrection with a minor early afternoon procession.

The most famous participant, Antonio Banderas, who allegedly won’t miss Semana Santa in his native Malaga and who’s (hooded) face was depicted prominently on the SurDeutsche (a German language weekly newspaper for German expats and tourists in Andalucia, whose editor in chief is Sabine) wasn’t to be seen either. For everybody interested in seeing him live: rumor has it that he and Melanie Griffith stay at the Hotel Lario every year to participate and watch in the Semana Santa festivities. It was great anyway, Banderas or not, and the daylight made in considerably easier to take pictures and made the figures in the pointed hoods less eerie and scary and therefore more appropriate for watching with Max (no nightmares).

We saw a long procession of people wearing long robes and extremely tall pointed hats in pretty much all colors with white, black and purple dominating. They were carrying banners or silver ornamental poles that, I am sure, have some fancy name that I don’t know. The kids often had little bells that they rang with considerable energy and endurance. The hoods have narrow slits for the eyes but otherwise the outfits cover people toe to head and beyond. Occasionally one could get a glance of a pair of glasses, some jewelry peeking out from under the sleeves that would give one an idea about the gender and age of the person underneath. Some, obviously, couldn’t resist sending a quick SMS or text message during the little breaks in the procession which made for an interesting contrast – medieval looking ropes and shiny new cell phones.
In between the hooded figures where bands playing the same solemn music we heard them playing on Good Friday in Ronda but only one of the large sized floats where carried around. Or at least we left after the first one came by to beat the crowd to a coveted spot in one of the local restaurants. My press pass came through for me again, I didn’t expect “the trick” to work but surprisingly it did and so soon enough I was running around between the hooded ones taking pictures with people commenting on the size of my lens and encouraging the participants of the procession “sonria para la prensa”. For all I know they complied and smiled under their hoods.

Mission Impossible: Daycare for Max

Today we went on what turned out to be mission impossible: to get Max into the local school for three weeks. The “guarderia” sent us away because he is three months too old for that institution. They directed us towards the colegio which turned us away for insurance and liability reasons. In fact, I believe, they just didn’t want what they consider an inconvenience – another child who will be here for just a short time. Since both the guarderia and the colegio are municipal and a conversation with the responsible person in the administration didn’t yield any results, other than the name and phone number of the political representative to call and petition we decided to call it quits. There exists very little that would be more of an outrageous waste of time than to petition a political appointee in a foreign country in a language one doesn’t speak very well to bend the rules and make an exception for somebody they have nothing to expect from, not even a measly vote in the next election. In the next town over, Nerja, there seem to be four privately run guarderias and there is always hope that money is big enough an incentive to bend the rules and make an exception. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Max was pretty heart-broken about the rejection. He had his mind set on going to school today and just didn’t understand why people wouldn’t let him in and play with the kids. The fact that we couldn’t explain the reasons behind it to him in very logical terms either didn’t help. We eventually settled on something like “the director is malo (bad)” which seemed to halfways satisfy him. To comfort him, Uli took him down to what is known as the “dangerous gorge” next to the village where he fought a bunch of imaginary mosquitoes with his “mosquito-lancet” – a piece of wood that he pretends to use to skewer said imaginary mosquitoes while I took Annette to Malaga from where she is leaving early tomorrow morning back to Zurich.

We are slowly getting the hang of Frigiliana. The trick is to be away or hiding between 11 am and 5 pm, that’s when the large busses dump the Brits, Germans, Austrians, Scandinavians, etc. Before and after these hours the village is peaceful and belongs to the locals (which includes a considerable number of expats, but okay, I like expats, I am one myself). With Semana Santa over things are bound to get a little less busy anyway – or so at least we hope.

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