From my experience so far, it’s hard to keep to a schedule in Spain. One always has to factor in unexpected events, or change of plans.
However, by 8pm Thursday evening we had made the 50 minute drive to Ronda – despite the crazy drivers trying to overtake me and then immediately cut in and slam on the brakes in preparation for the next bend.
Rafa & I were meeting Sarah in Ronda, to enjoy the evening processions through the town’s historic streets.
Although now, at the time of writing I am well and truly “processioned-out”, Thursday was really enjoyable. Despite the solemnity of the processions, there was a real fiesta atmosphere in the town with visitors & tourists sharing the streets with Spanish extended families, encompassing all ages from babies to grandparents.
The style and mood of the processions in Ronda were very different to the extravagance and spectacle of Málaga. Ronda is a wealthy pueblo blanco. With its proximity to the Costa del Sol, the city has a well-established tourist industry, supporting a vibrant service and hospitality sector. This is in addition to the age-old agricultural cottage industries making dairy and meet products.
The sophistication of the town is evident in the classical processions – from the flawless costumes to the attention to tiny details, like the rosary beads hanging from their rope belts or “cinturon de esparto”.
Some of the impact of these processions is lost due to the loud and talkative crowds and visitors like me taking flask photography…but in one of the charming narrow streets we experienced a really moving procession. Dressed all in black, the brotherhood walked holding tall black candles, followed by a small choir of children and musicians that sang and played some truly touching songs. Before the float passed a “Saetero” sang a haunting “Saeta” song – recounting the sadness of the cruxification. I am not a particularly religious person, but this moment gave me an indication of the significant emotional and spiritual impact the processions have for the non secular followers lining the streets. It is not just a spectacle re-enacted for tourists.
In Ronda the floats are known as “pasos” as the penitents carrying them are hidden from view, underneath the float, their feet just visible making the modest rhythmic steps forward.
I will update the Santa Semana photo album this week with the other photos from Ronda. Ronda is well worth a visit, but I recommend that unlike most visitors who just come for the day, you stay over night. That way you get to capture more of the genuine flavour of the city. In addition, early morning is the best time to enjoy the park overlooking the Serannia de Ronda and the historic street – uncrowded by tourists.