Scenes from Jerez #6: Day of Rest

Sunday night at the Guitarron is always a daydream. A glass of cream sherry warms you up after strolling through the air-tunnel alleyways, and a saludo from the team of veteran barwomen welcomes you while the slow strum of a guitar greets you. “Eres la primavera”, you are the springtime, the singer sings, smile beaming eyes squinting, teaching peace and love with his hands raised to the heavens like a preacher. The audience eggs him on with a soft clap, but no booming olés yet, he’s just getting us warmed up. A couple of weather-worn worshippers are smelling something in a large plastic container next to me, they invite me to have a whiff: incense for the Semana Santa, I’m told, a mixture of seven secret herbs and spices potent enough to bring you to rapture when poured over hot coals, I’m assured. The men have just finished practising a paso – the carrying of gigantic Virgin Maries and crucified Christs through the tiny streets of this town – and show me the medallions of their hermandad, the brotherhood, which, as far as I understand, is some kind of social club of believers, and they are hundreds of years old in some cases. One of them very solemnly declares, after very suspiciously staring me up and down, that I’m writing in Arabic, and after correcting him he compromises, telling me, very seriously, that I’m writing in Farsi, certainly not English. The other defends my new-found faith, explaining that Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the one and the same god, tienes razón, señor, tienes razón, too right mate, too right. As the night goes on he too goes on, and on, proclaiming to his congregation of one that “this is not flamenco!!”, just one meter away from the singer, and he may be right, or not, but that’s all right with me; this music isn’t heavy on the heart-break or the duende, it’s the perfect lullaby to ease the mind and soul after a weekend of not respecting my temple.

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