Hours in the saddle: 4hr 10 min
Well aside from a cold (8 degrees! Brrrrr) and misty start, the cycling day was largely uneventful..which is not a bad thing! Hardly any wind made it quite fast..only little detour was to Teba for 2nd breakfast but that failed. After climbing up to get to the town, I quickly got lost in the maze of streets and before I knew it I was spat out down the other side. I had wanted to stop there not just because it was mid way but also there is apparently some connection and monument to Scotland and Robert the Bruce which was quite random. Oh well, no way I was going back up that steep slope again!
So am back again in the lovely Ronda. First thing I noticed was the huge number of people and cars about. It turns out it is Palm Sunday..not a day that means much to me but apparently here.. Spain and Andalucia especially, today and the rest of the week (Semana Santa) is a massive deal. Not sure what had been going on but at about 1pm people poured on to the main street carrying palms or olive branches all dressed up to the nines. There is apparently a saying..
'Domingo de Ramos, quien no estrena algo, se le caen las manos' ("On Palm Sunday, the hands drop off of those who fail to wear something new")
And it certainly looked like they were pulling out all the stops. Some of the girls in their 6 inch heels wouldn't have looked out of place in a fancy club somewhere. I didn't envy them on the cobbles though.
I decided to sit out all this fun and found myself in a cafe underneath the main bridge having a glass of wine..my first of the trip if you can believe it!
On heading back into town for dinner, I ran into the full procession. It took about half an hour to move a hundred yards but it was quite something when it did reach me. First came the sweetie man who set up a stall and then moved on as the parade did. Then came the cross carried by a man in a white cloak and black hood, followed by a procession of other brothers including wee kids. Then the reason for the slow pace..a huge ornamental float with Jesus and various other folk on it..moving along very very slowly, wobbling side to side. Then you realise that there are feet underneath it! A lot of feet. It was being carried by 20-30 people. They controlled the pace as they had to stop and rest. Following them was a marching band, then more capes, another float..it just went on and on. The closest I can relate it to is like carnival floats at home, but with masks and scary music plus thousands more people watching it.loads more not too, as it seems you watch some, then go have a drink or ear, then go back and find it and watch some more..then repeat as necessary. There is also fairground sweet stalls and toy stalls, and a man cooling his nuts in water, his coconuts too. What was sweetest was that they obviously know that the procession takes time..so the 'minders' with the caped kids had bottled water and packed sandwiches for them..Bless! Hundreds of people turned up to watch it, and I couldn't even see the end of the procession. It looks like it goes to the town hall, whose plaza is already solid with people. I have escaped again, and headed for food. I am sure it will still be going when I have finished.
Tomorrow will be a long day as I head to Jerez but I am quite excited about it. Am already planning to see the horses and flamenco..and of course do some sherry tasting Also most importantly I get my first day off there...bit of a rest for my derrier and my legs (though I imagine there will be lots of walking), oh and I get to properly destink myself and my clothes! Something that will be much appreciated by those around me.