Spain special  

Romería in Cortegana

Note about AZAFRAN. Saffron from other countries than Spain are different kinds of Crocus sativus. In Greece Crocus sativus ssp cartwrightiensis it is a bit pale and not as strong as the Spanish kind. But buy it and mix it with a genuine Spaniard. You will get a nice, rich flavour! Greek, Canarian, Italian Saffron - the right kind of Crocus, feel the scent of Saffron even if not so strong!

Diplomerad saffransask
El Rocíos madonna

We have been to Huelva and visited Coto Doñana there. This National Heritage is fantastic! Near the park the little spooky village El Rocío lies on a vast plain of sand. The village is filled with people only once a year when thousands of people arrive to worship the Madonna of El Rocío, and to bring their own to meet her. See tghis video from 2014 about it in La Romeria de el Rocío! For the rest of the year you will find only a churchwarden, the man in the little kiosk for beverages and souvenirs, and the very zealous parking guard on duty. Two or three tourists, and some cows on a grassy spot make it a peaceful place!

We have been sitting under a Cork Oak sniffing flowers and we have met the wild pals of Ferdinand. On a safe distance! They are big, black and sometimes very angry! The farmers keep them far away from people and the villages, and the tourists who are on a hiking tour in the woods of Andalucía, are recommended NOT to climb over the fence! The bulls will not tolerate figures with rucksacks in their territory!
"Follow the signs of warning!" they told us, and we believe it, the animals are huge when they are ready for the arena. A friend of the Huelva family breeds such bulls and he took us to his farm miles from the village. Silence! Only twittering swallows.

The big bull - in one of the thumbnails below to enlarge with a click - was in this yard to get used, just a bit, to voices and people before entering the arena coming Sunday!

Skedstork, Coto Doñana  El Rocío, lågsäsong  El Rocío, vykort Colleccion Julián  Korkek, Cortegana  I väntan på corridan  Tjurarnas landskap

The Feast - The Romería
.A Romería is a feast, a cause for seeing friends, eat well and a lot and to dance and sing. The cause can be the Day of the Village Saint, and the neighbouring village people arrive to the Romería dressed in their national costumes, used on special occasions like this. Young men on horseback (they all look like Zorro), handsome elderly gentlemen as well, or dressed in the other common Fiesta costume (with braces, shawl in bright colours around the waist and a cap added to white shirt and jeans!).

Young girls and wives put on their best sevillanas and combs and flowers in the hair. The beautiful lady behind the horseman hangs on to a small handle on the saddle. Not easy!

Look at the pictures from Cortegana´s Romería below. Click to enlarge!

Hur håller hon sig fast?
How is she attached to the horse?
Feria in 2½ day!
Friday afternoon the ceremonial standard with a portrait of the Saint was brought in a mini procession to a small chapel from its place in the village church. Saturday it was carried under much pomp in a winding procession of some hundreds of participants to another chapel in the neighbouring village. There the Saint rested during two nights while everybody danced, got good meals, met friends in big rented party tents and showed their dresses and fine horses and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

In the early sunrise next morning it was time for Churros to dip in hot and thick drinking Chocolate. More dancing, horse shows and good time followed during the day. Sunday night the Saint was brought back to the first chapel, and not until Monday morning you could meet him again in the village church.

A bit of a surprise was to see someone on an ordinary week day coming on horseback to the bar and get his glass of beer still sitting on the horse, but the horse got a bucket of water. Here we learned to have our cameras ready for quick shots!

Bar El Melli Ride-in service
Bar El Melli Ride-in service
Alla kan rida I brist på häst tar man åsna Vagnen med standaret dras av oxar Publiken var också uppklädd
A young equestrian, three years old Short of a horse you take the donkey The wagon with the Saint was pulled by cows National costumes everywhere
På väg genom byn Sherrytunnan också! Alla var där Bartältet
On the move on the main street After the Saint comes the barrel with Manzanilla Everybody was there At last! The Bar Tent!

Small black pigs were munching acorns under the oaks around the village and were the living raw material for El Jamón de Huelva, a delicacy you soon will be addicted to once you have tasted the real thing. Like the ham from Parma it is dried in the chilly mountain air, patted and massaged by kind hands and ready to eat after 1½ -2 years. The Pata negra ham always keeps the foot as a sign that it is made of the small black pig of Huelva (pata negra =black foot) .

On our way back to Valencia we stopped in Toledo (Marzipan from Toledo is a must!) and drove over the Plain of La Mancha, with miles after miles of olive trees or vine stocks. - A most memorable journey!