The Virgin and a Politician on the Bongos
7 am Sunday morning. A loud bang wakes me. A minute later there’s another. By the time the fifth one echoes around the harbour I’m on deck.
I look towards the fishing port and see a trail of smoke shooting skywards. I follow its course into the pinkish blue sky before it turns into a tight little ball and explodes. A second later the loud retort reaches my ears. Oh yes, the Spanish do like their fireworks.
There has been quite a few this week. They’ve been celebrating the Virgen del Carmen Festival. It seems this particular Virgin is always busy. She’s not only the patron saint of seafarers and fishermen but also the patron saint of Cartagena.
On Sunday evening a statue of The Virgin was carried from the church of Santa Lucia down to the fishing boat dock. Earlier we’d seen people clambering aboard a small flotilla of boats.
We found out later that the statue was going to be placed on a boat and that they were preparing to escort her on a trip around the harbour.
Things move slowly in Spain and as we had no idea when things would start happening we headed back to the marina for the regular Sunday evening BBQ.
An hour later we could see a lot of vessels lurking around the fishing port entrance so I wandered down to the yacht port dock and sat on a bollard to watch.
A Naval tug, large trawlers, and a wide selection of smaller vessels were milling about waiting for the main event.
All were loaded with spectators drinking and generally making merry.
Then, after 20 minutes or so fog horns and hooters started sounding. Another trawler, ‘Vela Galleta Dos’ appeared through the entrance escorted by a Guardia Civil patrol boat. There on deck sat The Virgin statue.
The waiting spectator boats converged on her like a shoal of fish following the bait and they set off around the harbour.
Cartagena’s water borne festivities are quite muted compared to others in Spain. But it was still fun to watch
An hour later we were transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.
We were in town listening to Central American ‘Garifuna’ music.
It’s fair to say Cartagena is a city of contrasts.
So there’s yet another music festival on this week, ‘La Mar de Músicas’
It’s showcasing Latin/Caribbean music in particular and there are dozens of free and paid events taking place throughout the city.
As an aside we’ve got tickets to see UB40 this coming Friday. They’re playing at Parque Torres up by the castle right behind where ‘Gleda’ is moored. To be fair we’d probably be able to hear them on the boat but I just couldn’t pass up the chance to see such an iconic band from the city of my birth.
Anyway, on stage last night in front of the old town hall we listened to Aurelio Martínez, from Honduras. Aurelio is the worlds foremost ‘Garifuna’ music artist. It’s a heady mix of guitars and ‘bongo’ drums with a distinctly African vibe.
We leant against the wall of the Roman Theatre museum to watch and soak up the sights and sounds.
This was feel good music. Aurelio soon had the crowd clapping and singing along. Even passers by couldn’t resist dancing to the rhythm.
Aurelio has apparently served in the Honduras National Congress representing his community. The Garifuna (or Garinagu) are descendants of African slaves who intermarried with the Carib Indians when shipwrecked there in the 1600’s.
Today they mostly live in a series of villages and towns along the Caribbean coastline of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
He’s done some serious work as a politician. If only some of our politicians could make people as happy.
If you happen to be feeling a bit down I urge you to watch this video of Aurelio and his band performing in one of the Garifuna villages. I can guarantee that you’ll be smiling and tapping your feet by the end. Oh and watch out for his unique style of dancing. He did that last night, it was brilliant.
In Other News.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing these past weeks. My last few posts on this site have been off topic and I know there are some who’d prefer it if I stuck to tales of our life aboard Gleda.
It’s a fair point.
So I’ve decided to make a few changes.
From now on anything I post on this site will be sailing or travel related.
My ramblings about life the Universe and everything will have a new home: www.neilhawkesford.com.
I want to write more, so for the months ahead, my focus will be on the new blog and the new book. There’s a lot going on in my head right now and it’s not fair to impose it all on my loyal ‘Gleda’ followers.
If you’re one of them I hope you’ll stick with us. Gail will be keeping the Gleda Project Facebook page up to date and blogging at Landgirlafloat.com. I’ll continue to post here whenever I have something interesting to share.
I’m also taking a social media break. Twitter has lost its appeal and Facebook pisses me off. If I’m to connect with more people through my books and blogs I need to focus on those who are happy to spend more time reading.
To that end, I’m also going to start writing on Medium.com. I’ve been reading good stuff on Medium for a few years now but I’ve never written there. Medium sums up its purpose thus: ‘Every day, thousands of people turn to Medium to publish their ideas and perspectives. Leaders. Artists. Thinkers. And ordinary citizens who have a story to tell. Posts range from scrutinies of world affairs to deeply personal essays. Medium sifts the best of these for you and delivers them directly onto your home page’.
Some of my recent blog posts fall into that ‘deeply personal’ category hence my feeling that Medium is a good fit for me.
You can follow me there at medium.com/@Neil_H
I’m excited about this next stage of my writing journey. I’d be honoured if you’d join me.