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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Island Escape 3rd April 2012, Part 1

1st April 2012
Palma de Mallorca on a sunny Sunday afternoon was a delightful sight, as I pulled my suitcase along a shiny-stoned narrow street leading off a big square, where the crowds were gathering to listen to a local band tuning up. I checked in to my hotel whilst listening to the band music sounding even louder. Minutes later I stood at the hotel entrance and just yards away from me, approaching from my left, was the start of a huge procession – it was Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week in the Christian calendar, and I felt very privileged to be able to see the procession.

I had seen television pictures of the Holy Week processions in Southern Spain cities, but hadn’t realised that the churches and people of Mallorca also celebrated in their own way, and I was fortunate enough to have a close-up view. I was also fortunate to have checked in to the hotel when I did, as Police and crowd barriers would probably have stopped me reaching it otherwise.

Thousands of people were watching thousands of people in the procession which wound its way through wide and narrow streets of the city of Palma, taking probably three hours to pass any one point. It had started with a Cathedral Mass, and then priests and believers of all ages process through the streets, many of them in long pointed hoods; these represent some of the thirty brotherhoods of the city, many of them long-established and most with their own band or musical group playing a slow march tune to keep everyone in step, and playing their drums very loudly indeed. The bandsmen were in their brotherhood uniforms, looking very smart and colourful. Many in the procession or spectators carried palm or olive branches, which apparently had been consecrated earlier, some wore sackcloth and chains, and some carried overwhelming incense. It was an extraordinary, almost medieval, sight and mesmerising to watch and hear.

After almost two hours I was able to follow a small family along the side of the procession for a few yards, and emerge into open streets. I could then walk and find a local restaurant to have a meal and marvel at what I had seen. Even after that I could still hear the drumming and know that the procession was still circulating. I walked back towards my hotel, only stopping to take a photo of a brightly lit and decorated shop-window (Louis Vuitton) containing three very expensive handbags. My hotel was an old 15th century palace in another life, so it was good to get ‘home’ and enjoy the modern facilities it now offered.

(Note: I have since found a website showing a very short video of what I saw: http://www.teleweb-mallorca.com/en/paginas/025_semana_santa_en.html)

Ships seen: Island Escape’s funnel and superstructure just visible in the cruise terminal, newly arrived from her lay-up in Cadiz.

To be continued...

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