Small town Spain at the end of Whitsun. In Alhama de Granada, a hill town midway between Malaga and Granada in Andalucía, the celebration of Corpus Christi on the first Sunday in June takes the form of a religious procession through the streets of the old Arab town. The event is announced by a stirring peal of bells from the huge earthquake-scarred tower of the Church of La Encarnación. Temporary flower-decked altars have already been set up strategic points along the processional route, the course of which is marked by a wide swathe of horsetail gathered from the nearby gorge.
Musicians carrying trombones and drums saunter across Plaza de la Constitución to assemble outside the main door of the Iglesia del Carmen that overlooks the gorge. Eventually, the congregation files out of church and after a fanfare of deafening fircrackers the procession leaves to make its way around the town’s narrow streets. Leading the entourage along with the priest are girls in white dresses carrying baskets and boys in sailor suits, then comes the heavy wooden float carried on the shoulders of a rota of 28 men followed by the band and what seems like most of Alhama’s population dressed in their Sunday best.
It takes an hour or two to make the circuit, stopping for blessings a long the way, and then, after returning to the starting point, the crowd slowly disperses. Already, municipal workers in high-visibility jackets have swept up the horsetail and rose petals and Alhama is returned to tranquil whitewashed normality. Now, it’s just like any other another sleepy Sunday afternoon – muy tranquilo: a stroll and chat in the square, an unhurried meal, a drink, a sun-drugged siesta.