Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Grape Festival in Azofra - 2018

Note:  This festival was on one of our Caminos between 2009 and 2011. I don't have my desktop computer with all my photos, so I'm not sure until I get home what year this was. But these festivals still happen each Autumn and if you're lucky, you'll pass through on a festival day!

On a dusty and hot September day,
a group of weary pilgrims
strolled into the tiny village of Azofra 
to a curious sight.

People were carrying their kitchen tables
out of their houses and into the streets!

There was an unmistakable air of expectation.
Something was about to happen!
We checked into the refugio
and asked another pilgrim,
"What is going on?"
She didn't know.

Leaving our mochilas on our bed (we used to do that),
we went out into the village and began looking around.
There were big jugs of wine,
cooling in the local fountain.
Old men were hanging around in small, intimate groups,
chattering away about farming matters.
The women seemed to be missing in action.

A band of young men waited in the square, 
instruments in hand.
Wandering through the village,
we followed our nose to an empty lot
where a man was cooking giant pans of paella
over an open fire.
In another lot,
women were cooking pots of lamb stew.
The fragrance was unbelievable!
My mouth began to water.
Walking 26 kilometers gives a pilgrim a great hunger!
How could we swing a seat at one of these tables?

Soon, I realized many people in the village
were wearing a bright orange handkerchief around their necks.
What significance did this have?

I asked a local,
who explained that you must go to the building in the square
and pay 8 Euro for your dinner.
As a receipt,
they'd give you the handkerchief.


We got into line,
got our handkerchiefs,
and hurried back to the refugio.
Together, a group of us dragged our kitchen table
out into the street to join the others
then rushed back inside to gather up
plates, silverware, and glasses.

We returned just in time!
Here came a couple of ladies with a wheelbarrow -
and inside the wheelbarrow was a gigantic pan of PAELLA!
Each person was given a generous scoop!
This group of pilgrims usurped someone else's personal table.
A frustrated lady tried to explain that the tables belonged to her family,
but the pilgrims just smiled and nodded!
They felt SO HAPPY to be a part of the festival!
The poor lady finally gave up 
and had another table brought out
for her family!

After the paella,
out came a wheelbarrow with lamb stew.
Then bread.
Then wine..
and more wine..
and more wine...
We were one happy group of Pilgrims!
When we thought we were so full
we couldn't eat another bite,
out came the desserts!
All you could eat!
Dessert was followed by more wine.
Then they handed out cigars to the men,
and cigarettes to the women.
And of course.. more WINE!
And then...
the band began to play!
The music was traditional folk music
of the region.
Oom-pah sort of music,
some might call it old fashioned,
but it was wonderful
and made us all feel light-hearted
(or it could have been the wine?)

As soon as the music began,
an older woman grabbed a broom,
and began to dance,
pumping the broom up and down in the air.
All the women of village got up to follow her -
They had obviously done this before! 
Then up jumped the men.
Soon, all the women were on one end,
and the men were on another,
and there was a sort of "chase" dance going on.
The women would pretend to nag the men,
and chase them into their corner,
then turn and run away,
the men chasing the them back 
to THEIR corner.
As they chased, they sang a song.
The words were in Spanish,
and I didn't understand them,
but the meaning of the dance
was clear enough!

The men couldn't win,
because the lady with the broom 
would shoo them away,
hitting them on the behind and head!
There was a lot of laughing,
a few risque comments,
and a good time to be had by all!
 We drank and danced,
 and drank and talked,
 and drank and toasted,
Edeltraut, Enrique, Joe, I, and our other fellow pilgrims,
and celebrated
 until we couldn't drink or dance another step!

And then, at midnight, 
the church bell began to ring.

As if by magic,
the music stopped.

People picked up their tables,
and quickly cleaned up the trash.

By the time the bell tolled 12,
the square was quiet and dark,
and empty.
It was if nothing had happened there.

We weary pilgrims picked up our table 
and wove back to our refugio,
satiated and happy under the Camino stars!

We slept well, 
Santiago protecting our sleeping place.
And at dawn,
we arose to coffee and bread,
still giddy from the night before.

I blessed the town as I walked away,
for it's sweet acceptance and hospitality.

It was just another Camino miracle,
to get so drunk on new wine
and awaken completely refreshed.

Thank you, Azofra,
for a wonderful memory!

Note:  If you are interested in walking the Camino Santiago, 
but are not quite ready to go it alone, 
consider joining Annie
on one of our small, affordable Camino walks. 
For more information see our website 
at this link: AnnieWalkers Camino

1 comment:

  1. Your grape festival reminded me of a Spanish version of Brigadoon that disappears into the mist when the night is over.


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