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El Sójourñer Andaluz

Almost thirty years of wandering in Andalucía, from isolated mountain villages to dynamic vibrant cities, have left a few tales to tell, so here I shall share with the interested

El Caganer - The Nativity Pooper
09 December 2014

El Caganer

People are often surprised and shocked to find the figure of a man, with his trousers dropped defecating, included in the Christmas Nativity scenes across Spain. It would seem incongruous with the holy nature of the Christian message. The Spaniards however are amazed at the fuss that this little chap can create.

A Typical Cagener

A Typical Cagener
A Typical Cagener
Source: HispanicLondon
Source: dutchdepression
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The Origin

The exact origin of the caricature has been lost in the mists of time but is widely belived to be dated back to the late 17th century, and most definitely originates from Cataluña as belied by its traditional Catalan costume.

The Traditions

The interpretations of the tradition vary. Some suggest it is a reference to the humanity of the birth, whilst others imply a fertility symbol and still others view it as a lucky omen. But it might just be a humorous whimsical folly of childish fun, it certainly appeals to the adolescent comic in us.

Source: AwsomeOff

Giant Caganer

Last year a giant nineteen foot Caganer was errected in a Barcelona shopping center that created quite a stir

Source: Maria Agrell
Source: Desperta ferro

But where would you draw the line?

In recent years the Caganers have been on offer that represent various personalities, politicians and just about anybody in public life, you can purchase the whole Real Madrid football team lined up pooping in unison! Others include Barrack Obama, Santa Claus and even our Queen.

Where would you draw the line? The Bishops here in Spain believe that line has been crossed when the Vigen de Monserat and the Pope were offered on a website and this might even reach the tribunals.

Like 1        Published at 14:53   Comments (2)

The Most Incredible Nativity You'd Never Find
09 December 2014

The Most Incredible Nativity You'd Never Find


El Peña Belén La Mosca

Source: Barbara Tremain


Belen is the name given to the many nativity scenes that spring up all over Spain at this festive time of year. I have, during my life here, adopted the habit of visiting as many of these that I Stumble upon. I'm invariably en-awed at the dedication and labour that is expended over several months to craft these magnificent works. None, however, have inspired the emotions more that the minor masterpiece that has been created by the community in the small village of La Mosca on the outskirts of Málaga. Over the last twenty two years the neighborhood has worked in unison to recreate the Christmas story on the side of the mountain at the edge of the village. The Belen has bloomed from a small shoe box sized Nativity to the thirty square meters that it occupies today.

A small section of the Nativity

Source: Barbara Tremain
Source: Barbara Tremain

The Birth of A Belén

I was joined by Francisco Dueñas, Secretary of the 'Peña Belén' who was more than happy to recount the unusual history;

It all started in 1991 when the locals were protesting the presence of a large rock of many tons that was perched precariously above the village threatening to plunge devastation on the populous. As is common In Andalucia the protest was accompanied by singing, dancing and the cooking of a paella. To further entertain themselves some of the participants, noting that the mountainside resembled a rugged country side in miniature, decided to make a small nativity amongst the rocks

The Angel Gabrial


Before long every one had become involved; collecting plants, carving and dressing figures and building a stable. The small nativity was illuminated by candles and guarded around the clock.

All figures are handmade and dressed

Source: Barbara Tremain

This proved so popular with people visiting from all over the province as word of mouth spread that it was decided to repeat the project every year


The Egyptian section


The Market Place


Useful info


Opening times

Weekdays 10-14.........17-22

Weekends/fiestas 10-22

Bus No34 will take you from the center of Malaga to right outside the door(last stop)

Christmas Day is a huge fiesta with music, carols and Malaga wine


Map data ©2014 Google, basado en BCN IGN España
la mosca malaga spain - 
La Mosca, Málaga, Spain
 [get directions]



Like 0        Published at 14:44   Comments (0)

What a Way to Learn a Language!
21 September 2014

I remember the moment it hit me, I mean really hit me. Previously it had just been another Item on the list.

Learn Spanish!

Glibly scribbled amongst such other necessities as mosquito repellent and sun cream. I took it seriously, or so I thought. I'd bought a box set of cassette tapes, that’s what we had back in the day, and with the regulation pencil for sorting out the spaghetti that the player would churn out, I was happy that I the language problem covered. So I cruised the length of Spain dutifully digesting and repeating the wisdoms of this ingenious system. It wasn't to long before I had a chance to put this into practice, I had pulled into a small village to top up on petrol and quickly found a suitable victim lazing on a bench. I bid the elderly gent 'good day' and projected in my best telephone voice; “dónde está la gasolinera?” Well, his reply sounded like gargling along to La Cucaracha for what I understood of it, unperturbed I drove of in the general direction of his arm waving. Perhaps the folk in the north of the country, like my homeland, had a strange way of pronunciation, surely they would speak clearer down south I mused, as I went on my way.

But the real defining moment was the first time I had ventured into Lola's shop.

I had by this time been some months in Spain and had done something that I had not envisaged doing, simply because I had never imagined in my wildest dreams, that I would be able to afford to, I bought a house. A cottage to be more precise, in a small mountain village 14 kilometres inland and 750 meters above the Mediterranean Sea. The cottage was in need of complete renovation but was habitable in a very basic way. I therefore found myself as not only one of the few foreigners to have ever visited the village but the only one to have chosen to live there. I was somewhat of an oddity but that has always been par for the course.


The first time I crashed through the bead curtains of Lola's I was confronted by a gaggle of black widows who were all staring at me. A most uncomfortable feeling like an alien emerging from a spaceship under the gaze of a waiting crowd. The black widows parted in unison leaving a corridor to the counter where Lola was beaming a pleasant smile in my direction. I felt the eyes boring into my back as I approached the counter. Wanting some cold meats I spat a few words Into air. The room erupted into a loud animated conversation, presumably discussing my request. Eventually Lola nodded to me, disappeared out the back, on return she proudly placed a small tin ashtray on the counter. Completely derailed I cascaded some loose change onto the counter, half of which fell to the floor, sending the black widows deliriously scrabbling to collect the coins. My embarrassment was by now acute, I was burning bright red and I just wanted out of there. The ladies arranged payment for my purchase handed me the remaining coins and ashtray, I swept the room with a broad smile and a thank you and crashed out of the shop.


The enormity of it all settled on me like a great weight, I had to completely and utterly learn this language or I would not be able to live here. I threw myself into it, all or nothing. As I worked on the cottage I played the radio, not a music channel but a news type chat channel, the same applied to when I was driving. I went daily to Lola's with lists of what I wanted, that worked well, before long I could repeat the list without referring to it, I did the same when ordering building materials, another set of words. I got an old telly and watched news and cartoons, Elvis Presley spoke perfect Spanish, but could only sing in English! I would accost the locals in the street just to attempt some pronunciations. I frequented the bar......!

The bar became my classroom, as the patrons realised that I was keen to attempt to speak. Everyone wanted to be my teacher, sometimes all at the same time which became confusing, as did the local wine. I was approaching it as sounds that needed tagging to objects, actions or emotions, as a musician this worked for me, in fact it was very similar to the way I had learnt my native language.

Gradually, I relaxed into it, slow but steady, but you work with what you've got, and I had a radio, a telly, a dictionary and a village. You must bear in mind that this was pre-internet, and I was having to make it up as I went along. I found that it marinated into my Physic, my thinking and even my dreams.

The spin-offs to this approach were immeasurable; the locals were getting to know this odd-ball Guiri, and I them. I was forging friendships, and became part of a very small community.

I'm not sure that I could have learnt the language any other way!


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