The arguing started before I was out of bed. Women’s voices, raised in conflict. “Más alta” … “No no – ¡¡¡ a la derecha !!!” …. “¡Arriba, arriba!” It sounded as though civil war was breaking out in my little street of seven houses. So much fighting? On a Sunday?
Once breakfast is inside me I can delay it no longer, and venture out into the street. Las chicas from next door, Ana and Julia, leap on me and pull me towards the action. The big problem seems to be the need for more crocheted tablecloths to hang in the space between my side and the other side of the lane, to create a shaded area. I have a vague memory of seeing one in a drawer, left behind by the previous owners. I go and rifle through the big old Spanish-style dresser with curtained glass doors and drawers below. Yes! Triumphantly I dash outside waving my trophy, only to be met with disappointed glares. Mine is pale cream and no use at all. Jesus can only be shaded under WHITE crocheted tablecloths on Corpus Christi.
We make do with what we have. Ana-Marie is pointing at the metal above the garage doors, planning to tie the tablecloth to that. I think it’s too low. I start the argument all over again. I insist it needs to be tied to the two balconies opposite, and to the bars on my upstairs windows. There’s nowhere else my side but Isabel has already tied it to the garage doors opposite. I loop the string around my window bars and gently pull it taut, tie it off, and return downstairs to view our work. It’s clearly too low on the other side. We all gaze at it. Julia says to the others “Tamara tiene razón”, Tamara is right. We untie all four corners and start again.
At last the shade is sorted, the altar is in place. The heavy depiction of Jesus is brought carefully from Rafaella’s house, draped to protect it from the sun. She tries propping it in front of the table, but it doesn’t look right on the ground. She holds it over the table. Perfect, but how will it remain in place? Tentatively, I suggest a small step-ladder. We can prop Jesus on a ladder behind the altar. With a couple of large stones to ensure it doesn’t shift, and yet another white sheet covering the ladder, it sort of works. Jesus is taken back indoors to Rafaella’s safe-keeping until nearer the time.
Finally, armfuls of branches of yedra are scattered along the pavements, petals are tipped in the centre and skilfully fashioned into a cross and a chalice. Someone turns up with a little waterfall. I plug it into my house so that it provides a trickling background to our display. A neighbour’s budgie-cage is plonked on my windowsill. Little Ana and Julia busy themselves adding petals to anything they see.
We collapse for coffee and cake in Isabel’s kitchen. She lives above her brother’s house, and hers is complicatedly intertwined with mine and his, as all three used to be one. From her top terrace, the first time I have been all the way up there, I can finally see exactly how the three houses are divided.
Back outside, Jesus is brought out and propped on his ladder. Everybody’s cameras appear and the “Team Rincón de las Flores” photo is taken. The first of the townsfolk arrive, on their pilgrimage around the altars. Then the judges appear. We hover nervously out of their way. They seem to miss the waterfall, so little Ana runs up to point it out to them. They make notes, mutter, take photos, and leave.
The communion children and the cura arrive and squeeze into our tiny street. The cura blesses our altar, and waves a general blessing around the street. A mini-mass is sung, rather beautifully. They leave, to continue on to the other Corpus Christi altars. My home has always felt blessed – and now, actually, it is.
“Equipo de Rincón” go for a walk to look at the competition. It’s impressive (though the photo I put on Facebook draws rude comments about one street hanging enormous brassiéres across the street). Damn, they’re good! All had more space than us. Some had natural features like trees, or the fountain in the plaza, others had large props such as big statues. The Cofradía de la Virgen Candelaria has a vast membership and significant resources. Our hopes for a prize diminish with each display we see. But we steal some ideas, particularly for creating a backdrop next year.
We will not find out till the Fiesta de San Juan at the end of the month whether we scraped into the prizes. But we’ve decided we don’t care. Isabel says there should be a special prize for the best team, the best collaboration between neighbours. In that category, we already know we are winners.
© Tamara Essex 2013
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
So many “false friends”! I get confused between sensible and sensitive – I’m a bit sensitive, or I’m a bit emotional, is “Estoy un poco sensible”. But if I DO want to say that I’m sensible, or rational, it’s “Soy una persona sensata.” The first is “estoy” because it’s a temporary state of being, whereas in the second it is a fundamental characteristic so it is “soy”.
And note the male/female endings here … even though I’m female it is still “un poco” in the first example, and in the second “sensata” remains the same for men because “una persona” is female, even if you’re not! Hope that makes sense 🙂