Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Three Kings

"Usta va fiesta?"

- my first comprehensible sentence in Spanish

It's the Three Kings Festival today, and the city's pretty much dead. Monday night, there was a huge parade of Santas and Pharaohs and Wise Men down the Gran Via Colon, but today, half the shops are closed and everyone's walking around looking like they're nursing a giant hangover. 

It's a pretty strange parade for an outsider. You've got a few of cohorts of Roman legionnaires, Berbers and Moors. Then a couple of guys on stilts. Then a float of a Pharaoh, and a couple of Wise Men, and then one of Santa on a neon-trimmed sleigh. All of whom throw sweets into the crowd. Dads hold up confused babies to see the parade. Kids worm their way through the crowd to pick up sweets on the floor. And everyone cheers and waves as the lollies rain down from on high. 

I suppose one of the reasons people travel is to be able to see strange local traditions first-hand - like getting pelted with hard-boiled lollies in the middle of the night. It's strange because the Spanish Christmas season has been building up to this point. There's a quiet lull between New Year's and Three Kings Day, and then it ends in a bang. Three Kings Day is the day that presents are distributed. And it's kind of cute watching the kiddies try out their toy motorbikes on the streets. 

But then again, one of the best days in a long while came the other day, when I realised that EVERY bar in Granada offers free tapas, whether advertised or not. Fried ocotopus, grilled squid, jamon bocadillos... it's enough to make an alcoholic out of anybody. 

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