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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Village Fiesta
Wednesday, August 17, 2022 @ 10:36 PM

Back home and drinking one of those beers from the Aguila people that you have to turn for a moment upside-down. Gassy. Urppph.

Alicia and I were in Velefique this week, a small village up in the hills beyond Tabernas (you remember - where they shot all the spaghetti cowboy films). The village was celebrating its three-day-long fiesta which started on Monday, a Moors and Christians effort, and we supplied the four horses and their skilled and costumed riders. Not me, Gracious no, I was either in the bar or propping up the chiringuito: the temporary tin-bar in the square next to a pop-group platform.

Oh yes, it was noisy all right.

The councillor in charge of fiestas is called Ramón. He had showed us where we could keep the horses, where the water was and so on (Alicia slept up there with the crew on Monday and Tuesday).

I got a ride home (well, to water and feed the rest of our animals).

It’s a nice little pueblo, no foreigners, no hotels and strictly no souvenir shops. Velefique (pop. 230) can apparently trace its history back to the Romans.

So noisy indeed was the fiesta last week in next-door Senés, where we had similarly brought our four intrepid riders and horses for another Moors and Christians hoopla, that the bar-owner and wife had upped stakes and closed for the session (only two days this time - the village is even smaller).

No one likes to overwork, I agree, but closing up for the fiesta? The only place that served drinks in Senés during that particular thrash was the estanco, the cigarette shop who luckily has a side-line in beer.

Well, and the chiringuito as well - with the same crew. I can highly recommend their old-bit-of-pig sandwich which comes together with one’s welcome glass of beer.

The Moors were ejected from the hills of Almería sometime around 1490, a couple of years before Granada fell to the forces of Fernando of Aragón and Isabel of Castille. To prove their undying fealty and rigorous un-moorishness, everyone had to start eating pork and stop bathing (true story!).

Fiestas (or ferias) in Spain often overlap the single day saint's celebration (Almería, which kicks up its heels from the 19th, carries gamely on until the 27th, inclusive. Well, come to think of it, since the last day is a Saturday, we might as well manage a merrie and boozy luncheon on the Sunday, informally known as ‘el día de resaca’, down at the playa, why not?).


But first, Velefique. I was reminded of a pretty village inland from Mojácar called Bédar, when my dad had bought three houses in 1966 for ten thousand pesetas (sixty euros).

I opened a bar there for a few months sometime in the mid-seventies before deciding that hard work was not for me. I called it El Aguila, the eagle (there was a brand of smokes called El Aguila in those days, plus of course the beer. Marketing, I figured).

Fifty years later, and Bédar is now a British colony where people complain about the dog-poop and have tea-parties.

I forgot to ask Ramón how much a house costs in Velefique these days (much to his relief).

See, I was thinking of opening another bar.

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