Sunday, April 8, 2012

Don't Cry For Me [Argentina?]

I promise (I think) that this is the last Semana Santa blog post (from me). I just have to share images from the final procession to pass by our house. I took most of these from a different point of view. I really had no intention of observing this procession, which went out up the street from us from the Church of San Lorenzo and the plaza of the same name. It shares the plaza with the Basilica of Jesus del Gran Poder.

I LOVE THE SMELL (AND VISUAL EFFECT) OF THE INCENSE.

Jerry and I were watching "Charlie Varrick," the 1968 movie with Walter Matthau, on TV. Neither of us had ever seen it. We were really enjoying it and, since it wouldn't end before the procession was scheduled to arrive, I decided to forego the procession. But perhaps a higher power wanted us to witness this procession (and, no, I don't really believe that). The film ended. We opened a balcony door. And there were the lights of the penitents' candles approaching the plaza.

KIND ENOUGH TO LET ME JOIN... MOMENTARILY

Jerry (San Geraldo) stayed upstairs and watched all from our corner balcony. Below him, the lawyers' office was filled with guests. I didn't realize you could fit so many people (eight) on one balcony. The building is solid, but we still won't try this one at home (you can see them in the next-to-last photo below).

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT.

One of the traditions of Semana Santa is "spontaneous" singing. As a procession passes, a devout observer may suddenly break into a mournful song (called a saeta) dedicated to the paso. I put double-quotes around spontaneous, because what I've heard (and from what we've seen this Semana Santa), these songs are quite often now pre-arranged to coincide with a convenient stopping point. An ideal time seems to be when the guys carrying the float (the costaleros) need to do a shift-change. 

LA SOLEDAD (THE LONELINESS OR SOLITUDE). TASTEFULLY UNDERSTATED.

The Church of San Lorenzo has only one paso (float). It is of the Virgin Mary and is called "La Soledad" (Loneliness or Solitude). Just before the paso reached our building, a woman on the balcony below Jerry broke into song. The float stopped and was carefully settled on the ground. Sweaty and sore costaleros crawled out from beneath it. The next group, fresh and ready, stepped in. The changing of the guard took 3 minutes. The song lasted 3 minutes and 15 seconds. The singer genuflected and watched them pass.

THE NEXT SHIFT OF COSTALEROS.

There is one final procession today, Easter Sunday. The main difference between this procession and the earlier ones is that it signifies the Resurrection. There's music. And the penitents walk unhooded. They were supposed to pass within two blocks of us around 7 a.m. I decided I didn't need to leave our plaza or even our house to see another procession. I would just sleep in. But at 7:20, Jerry woke me calling out, "Mitchell, quick, there's a procession right outside!" 

"THE TRUTH IS I NEVER LEFT YOU"
SAN GERALDO ON THE BALCONY DOING HIS EVITA IMPERSONATION.

I flew out of bed, threw my clothes on, grabbed my camera, and opened my balcony door. I looked and saw two people walking quietly on the street below. I looked toward the plaza and saw not a soul. I could hear a marching band. Jerry walked in and said, "Sorry. From the sound, I thought they were passing by here. They're a few blocks over."

I groaned. I laughed. I stripped. I left a trail of clothes on the floor as I made my way back to bed. I was asleep within a few minutes and I slept for another two hours.

SAN GERALDO SHARING HIS BALCONY.

30 comments:

  1. What an amazing place you live in, with such a view of all these processions. I had no idea of this part of Spanish culture. Your pictures give a good sense (I think) of the feeling of the event.

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    1. Kristi:
      Thanks for coming along. I'm glad you're enjoying it. These are all first-times for me and I'm hoping my descriptions and photos are giving a sense of what we're actually experiencing.

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  2. These have really been such interesting and beautiful posts! What an amazing site!

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    1. I am so glad you're enjoying this, Judith. Sharing it this way makes it even more fun and more memorable for me.

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  3. Love the last part with "YOUKNOWWHO" on the balcony...I can hear the Broadway musical now....'Don't Cry 4 me...."!

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    1. When the woman on the balcony below started to sing, Jerry had just thrown his arms up in the air to belt out "Don't cry for me..." Thank God she started first!

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  4. Thanks for these great posts. The photographs and commentary are wonderful as always, and you have provided a window (literally and figuratively) to a different way of thinking and carrying tradition. It's so interesting to see how people live and celebrate.

    Now its back to churros and chocolate without fighting the crowds!

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    1. Michelle:
      We've got this week to get our fill. The following week is Feria. One MAJOR party.

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  5. This parade was stunning! I still find the penitents a bit spooky - but some of those costaleros look quite cute! I've really enjoy seeing these posts.

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    1. Elaine:
      There were actually a few extremely hunky and handsome costaleros. But I couldn't grab subtle shots of them and was embarrassed to walk up and say, "Hey. You're hot. Can I take your picture? Really, it's only for my blog." Maybe next time!

      Some of the guys came out from under the paso with their shoulders and necks rubbed raw from carrying the poles across their backs. It looked painful!

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  6. The only religious parade I ever saw was the Santa Lucia one we have in my city every summer. A little box is paraded around and supposedly contains her hand that has never atrophied. I was skeptical since it is in a gold box and you can't see it. And I wondered who chopped off her hand in the first place?

    But we go every year, as she is my daughter's namesake and and we love the Italian sausage sandwiches. Plus, they have a blessing of pets and we get our dog blessed every year. I think he likes the majesty of the whole thing, plus...they give the dogs a mini Italian sausage for a treat after they are blessed.

    So..um...ok. Basically we go for the food.

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    1. Maria:
      Wow! I had read that all relics from Santa Lucia are in Italy (originally in Venice). I wonder how your city managed to get her hand! I used to go to the Saint Anthony and San Genero's festivals in NYC's Little Italy. Nothing could have prepared me Semana Santa. Oh, and yes, I went in NY for the food!

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  7. LOL! Now that was a lot of visuals to take in! Thanks Mitch!
    as overwhelming all this must be, it is probably quite exhilarating at the same time.....getting caught up in all the excitement! Great work Mitch on this series from Sevilla!

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  8. Jim:
    Thanks as always! I had a ball and have learned so much. I have no idea what I'll write about this week. But next week is Feria (the Fair)!

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  9. Thanks for all these fantastic photos and interesting facts. I really enjoyed this series of blogs!

    Hope you and San Geraldo are well! Send my love.

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    1. Carole:
      Thanks for reading them all! I had a great time with this. Next... Feria (the Fair)!

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  10. Wow, your coverage of all the events has been just great! I so appreciate all the wonderful photos and information you passed along to your international group of followers. You rock!

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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      This really has been the most fun I've had. Thanks for the questions and comments, too. This is all new to me, so I learned a lot by having to research these things. You rock, too!

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  11. Thans for sharing Mitch. San Geraldo could look Mary straight in the eye when she passed along your balcony. [Or it looks like that in the photo].

    I wonder what next week brings?!

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    1. Peter:
      I hadn't realized how close San Geraldo was to "Mary Level"! One of my reasons for going downstairs was because the pasos carrying Mary usually have canopies, which means I couldn't see her from above. In this case, I would have gotten some really good close-up shots. I know for next year!

      Next week is Feria. So, brilliantly colored traditional costumes, parties, lights. Very different. Can't wait.

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  12. I had to larf at that final photo.. yhou old queen!!!!!!!!!!!
    xxx

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    1. John:
      I would have spent more time doctoring that photo, but I didn't want anyone to think Evita (well, Patti Lupone) was actually here. And who are you calling old?!?

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  13. Mitch,
    I really enjoyed your sharing this experience with me. It is fascinating to watch and learn about.

    Thanks
    Scott

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    1. Scott:
      Blogging about it made it even more memorable (and educational) for me. I've been learning today from local friends what we SHOULD have seen; so I'm making a list for next year!

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  14. The Evita fits right in to the pageantry and provides a bit of camp. It takes the fruits of the world to makes things fabulous.

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    1. Ur-spo:
      I had a passing thought when the woman stepped out on the balcony and started to sing that it would have been really funny if instead someone had started to sing "Don't cry for me, Argentina." It was probably good I was downstairs and not on the balcony at the time.

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  15. Spectacular! Thanks for the photos!

    p.s. - buy/rent/borrow the DVD of Charlie Varrick, like 99% of Mr Matthau's films it's a giggle and well worth a watch all the way through! Grab "Hopscotch" while you're at it...

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    1. The Owl Wood:
      We DID get to see the entire film. The procession was a little late. We both loved "Charlie Varrick." I will definitely check out "Hopscotch." Thanks!

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  16. All these processions, all this excitement a fabulous Easter affair. What comes next? I have enjoyed your coverage of all things religious and Spanish. Evita seems so right for the moment!

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    1. the cuby poet:
      The evening of the 23rd, Feria (the Fair) begins! No religion and lots of color, music, and fun.

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