Memories of Chacas was written in 2014, reflecting on my earlier trip through the Peruvian Andes. There I visited my great-uncle, Padre Ugo de Censi, a ninety-three year old Salesian priest who in the 1970s visited the village of Chacas and fell in love with its landscape; a mountainous, verdant land which reminded him of the countryside from which he came, the Italian Valtellina. Continue reading “Memories of Chacas”
“In the south, we need to touch” – this is how the Spanish tradition of Semana Santa was explained to me by Manuel, council representative of Defensión brotherhood, a religious association which for over fifty years has participated in the Holy Week processions of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Commemorating the final days of Christ, the Semana Santa is an assault on your eyes and ears, and a jig-saw puzzle for your head. Continue reading “Sensing Semana Santa: Holy Week in Southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera (Photo Feature)”
Christmas in Spain is celebrated twice per year; first on Christmas Eve, and then again on Reyes – Three Kings Day, or the Epiphany – when children traditionally receive gifts delivered to them from bearded sorcerers of the Far East. Reyes Eve is celebrated throughout Spain with a Cabalgata de Reyes, a parade in which sweets are tossed by the kings’ retinues atop floats onto the onlookers below. It is said that Reyes is a children’s event, but at a Reyes parade adults briefly turn into children again. Continue reading “A Spanish Epiphany: Gorilla Culo, Inflatable Snake and Adults Turning into Children (Photo Story)”
Hidden from my sight behind the column of smoke bellowing out from an old fifty-five gallon drum sit the heroes of the night: two big round men with two big round zambombas secured between their two big round thighs. Continue reading “¡Zambomba! Celebrating Christmas in Jerez”
Every year in Arcos de la Frontera, a small but spectacular hilltop village in Spain’s south, the local people create what they call Belen Viviente, a living nativity scene or living Bethlehem. Visitors walking through the streets and plazas see bakers, iron-smiths, weavers and farmers working and living as if it were a typically brisk December’s night in Palestine some 2016 years ago. 2016 years on, millions of Marys and Josephs continue seeking room at the inn, still to no avail. Continue reading “Photo Essay: A Living Nativity Scene in Arcos de la Frontera”
Jerez’s Santiago Quarter, famed for its gypsy and flamenco culture, came alive today with a procession of an enormous gilded float through the barrio’s streets and laneways. A group of men carried upon their shoulders a figure of a tormented Jesus Christ on the road to Calvary. After hours of slow manoeuvring around the tight corners, the figure was finally delivered to the newly renovated Church of Santiago, where it will rest until next year’s Semana Santa celebrations.
The horns are blowing and the morning star is glowing: Malaga is celebrating Semana Santa and the entire city lines the streets to watch the endless processions march on down town and all around to the beat of drum bands announcing the coming of a crucified Christ or a Virgin Mary. Continue reading “Contemporary Traditions in Malaga”
Below follows my translation of a 2013 article written by Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian Nobel laureate in literature, in the Spanish-language daily El País (original here). His piece on Padre Ugo di Censi is probably the best and most widely-read piece on the living Patron Saint of Ancash Continue reading “Translation: Mario Vargas Llosa, Chacas and Heaven, on Padre Ugo di Censi”