Never let it be said that the humble goat has been left uncelebrated. In the Axarquía village of Casabermeja, the goat gets its own fiesta, and it’s not just a one day affair, but a full three days for this fine animal.
Falling into the old trap of imagining that an 11am start meant that it started at 11am (tschhhk, when will I learn?), I headed over to Casabermeja for around 2pm to find a few desultory stalls being built, some road closure signs stacked on the pavement, and nothing going on.
Parked by the Eastern Bazaar shop, my car was recognised. I was greeted as an old friend by Pedro, who runs the insurance office in Casabermeja. He is, naturally, a friend of Antonio who runs the insurance office in Colmenar. Moreover, Pedro’s son is a friend of Antonio the mechanic from whom I bought the car. This seemed to make me, too, a friend of Pedro. Did I mention that Pedro’s son is called Antonio? Pedro and I chatted a bit about the fiesta and about the two villages, we agreed that people called Antonio are generally good types, and we parted on excellent terms. “Mi casa es tu casa”, he called as I left. “My house is your house”.
Back at 9pm, Casabermeja was heaving with goat-related celebrations. A row of producers’ stalls offered an array of cheese, meats, honey, and crafts. The town band played while their mascot, dressed as a goat, wandered amongst the children, bizarrely allowing them to suck on his (her?) woolly teats.
Some real goats grazed amongst the crowd. One was tied up, in preparation for its big moment on stage for the speeches. I guess it had done the same job the year before, as just before it was due on stage it lifted a rear leg, expertly flicked its collar over its head, and legged it down the hill. The stallholder and I arced round in a pincer movement and forced the escapee into someone’s patio where it bit off a flower before being led back to the stage for its moment of glory. The owner turned out to be the founder of the goat festival and a man of high standing in goat circles. In thanks he forced a large packet of tripe on me (my reluctance had a massively sincere ring to it) before he too took to the stage for his big speech. A man in a wheelchair next to me told me I was lucky, it was award-winning tripe. I dumped it on him, muttered a lie about flying to England the next day, and legged it as fast as the goat.
Back in Colmenar, it was the weekend of the Hunting Dog Fair. I couldn’t see much activity other than a few stalls selling “outdoor pursuits” clothing and accessories, a taxidermist, and some owls on perches (live, fortunately). Outside opposite the donkey field row upon row of caged dogs were partially sheltered from the sun while their owners ensured that the beer tent at least would return home with a profit. There didn’t seem to be a timetable for displays or activities, and I felt this was more of a trade fair and meeting point than a public event. I climbed to the summit of the donkey field and down the other side to the track that comes in from Riogordo, skirted round the edge of Colmenar and back home via the bakery for an apple pastry.
© Tamara Essex 2012