21 April 2009
Jesus Is A Big Deal Here
As I am usually totally unaware of the date and time, it’s no surprise that I planned an entire trip to Spain - the second most-committed European Catholic nation - over Easter. Fortunately, Barcelona is somewhat of the “anti-Spain” in terms of progressiveness and so on, which meant not EVERYTHING was closed (the woman at a museum looked at me like I was insane when I asked about “special Easter hours” asking me, “what means special Easter? I don’t understand.” Even in the US things are closed on Easter). There were, however, two doozies in terms of life experiences.
The first came in the form of a Good Friday parade (Semana Santa) that was reenacting Jesus’ march to the cross. While Jesus was played by a statue, there were at least 100 people in the procession. Some were holding orbs, others were dragging crosses. The mayor of Barcelona and the bishop of Barcelona also took part. As it cruised down Las Ramblas (Barcelona’s main drag) literally THOUSANDS of people scurried to the line the streets and snap some pictures. I managed to get in front of the entire procession and get a few shots from inside the parade ground (there are very few rules to be seriously followed in Spain).
Naturally, I’m certain it’s my own cultural context and ignorance, but both Alyson and I were a bit taken aback by the pointy black KKK-esque hats everyone was sporting. It turns out the KK adopted their gear from the Catholic Church. You know, because they have so much in common?
The other Easter-related story has to do with the fact that Thursday through Tuesday was a “holiday” in Spain, so NO ONE was working, including the man who sells the butane necessary to heat water in the apartment. Yes, each apartment is in charge of its own natural gas supply (and I’ve heard stories from other Europeans who are under the same conditions). Well, we ran out Saturday night and couldn’t get more until Monday evening. Luckily - as Aditi pointed out - none of us could shower, so we sort-of shared in our own stench. Brave Alyson managed to wash her hair under the frigid conditions, but the rest of us - well - we smelled. Alas, you just have to embrace it, right? Right?