Posted by: deeandrews | June 19, 2008

Moors and Christians Festival

cigar-man-moors-and-christians We drove over to Moraira last night, about 10-15 minutes from where are staying in Javea. It was quite a bit bigger than we expected, with a beautiful old town on the water and near a large marina. People were all along the boardwalk enjoying the cool evening.

We discovered soon upon walking around a festival atmosphere and, sure enough, it was the first night of four of some commemoration of a battle between the Christians and Moors. (Some 600 years ago and it’s still being celebrated!) Many in the town were dressed up and walking about in various costumes, adults and children and the teenagers with their Fanta bottles full of something other than Fanta I suspect. A sort of play was happening near a battlement upon the rocks overlooking the sea.

When the shouting in Spanish and sound of canons finished, we went to find dinner at one of the many restaurants with umbrellas and tables lining the street. We started with calamari, which is on every menu here we discovered two years ago, and a salad of tomato, mozzarella and avocado. Emma, who normally doesn’t like avocado, tentatively had some with her tomato and cheese as well as tried pouring the Spanish olive oil over the whole salad. She is really making a great effort to try new foods! Grace preferred a hotdog or mac and cheese, though she has yet to find either! We all shared paella, the girls wondering what animal was in it with the eyes and tails still attached. This adventure may turn them into vegetarians!

The waiters were all very friendly and fun and especially delighted with our attempts at Spanish. They are used to speaking English with the Brits and dealing with tourists, the menus were even in five languages, but once we falteringly began in Spanish, they continued to speak to us in Spanish and help us along.

We enjoyed watching a group of local kids spontaneously dance with a street musician and the whole late evening was festive and full of families. Our walk back into the old town took us through the narrow, winding streets and squares with tables lined up for community dining at the various restaurants.

We discovered several marching bands winding back and around through the streets and upon following one, found the gelato! While eating our ice cream around the table in the middle of the street, the band appeared again, this time with costumed characters seemingly depicting various tribes in the procession. A third time later they passed by with the addition of a king, several sultan looking characters, a crusader, pirates, warriors—all in these elaborate costumes that I wondered where they stored. I envisioned the closets in the church basement full of these costumes to bring out from year to year. You could tell this wasn’t just a one-time thing but an annual event with people vying for the key parts. Groups of mothers my age were all clustered together in one tribe, the teenagers in another and the men another. Young children matched their moms and walked along. The old men, not in costume, grouped together on the benches to watch the procession, probably trading stories about when they played the part of the conquering king many years ago.

While I laughed that the whole thing reminded me of Eudora, Kansas and our annual CPA picnic and parade, Scott thought this was a bit more serious of a production with their crusader costumes, gold crowns, fancy bells and tassels.

We finished our gelato and made one last pass in front of the battlement before hiking up the steep hill to our car. It was a fun night full of different sights, sounds, smells and traditions. Just what we were hoping for.

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