After arriving back from Faro on Tuesday, I only had one day of work this week!! Thank you, Spain. Your long weekends are the best. On Wednesday night after my long working week(!), I went into Sevilla with some of the teachers from my school to see the celebrations for La noche de las tunas which is a celebration that starts on midnight on El día de la inmaculada concepción (immaculate conception). As a non-Catholic, I’m going to try and explain the concept of immaculate conception as best as I can, but please verify this info with an actual Catholic before accepting it as true. (Also if any Catholics are reading this, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). According to the Catholic Church, the Virgin Mary was conceived by normal human means, but at the time of conception God acted upon her soul, keeping it immaculate, that is, free of original sin. As a country where the Roman Catholic religion is very important, December the 8th is a national holiday in Spain where they celebrate this.
The celebrations for La noche de las tunas took place in Plaza de Triunfo in Sevilla and kicked off at midnight, but we got there about two hours beforehand to get a good view (there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people there, but because we’d arrived so early we were in the first row). I’m not entirely sure I completely understood it all, but here’s what I did get: every faculty/school of the local university has a group of singers and musicians who come up and present an offering of flowers to the Virgin, before singing traditional songs for 15-20 minutes. It was interesting to get an insight into some more of the local culture here, and the crowd were loving it!
I stayed at home for on Thursday (recovering from my late night), before paying a flying visit to a friend who lives in the north of Sevilla province in a village called El Castillo de las Guardas on Friday and Saturday. The bus on Friday night left from Plaza de Armas at 7pm, so I went into the city a bit early to do some window Christmas shopping because I’ve still not bought anything for anyone. Oops. The roads to the village were fab and I didn’t feel ill at all on the bus, but I did almost forget to get off which would have been a bit of a disaster hahah. Thankfully I did actually get off where I was meant to and met my friend. We walked up through the village and dropped off my bag before heading out for some dinner.
Unfortunately she was just back from Morocco and had a slightly dodgy stomach and didn’t want to risk eating too much, but I managed just fine. Can’t get over how cheap the prices were! Just over €5 for two tapas and a cup of tea! Bargain! I had my classic go-to of homemade croquettes and then spinach with chickpeas. We both had a traditional dessert which, I’m not going to lie, was kind of bizarre but very nice. If you can imagine slightly soft sweet breadsticks held together with sugar, that’s the only way I can think of to describe it. And after coming out of the restaurant, we bumped into her head teacher and his friend (classic small village life), so naturally we had to go for a beer or two (or three) with them before going back to her house. They were both so nice! Within five minutes of meeting her head teacher, I’d been invited to their school Christmas meal and their school trip to Granada in February! We also had a nice chat about their school science project about colonising other planets, as well as the philosophy of Albert Camus. Loved it.
Eventually said goodbye at midnight and made our way back up the hill again to go to bed. On Saturday morning we got up and went for a tour of the village after breakfast. What a setting – the views were fantastic! We also popped in to the bazar which was absolutely huge!! Very impressed given how tiny the village is. After the grand tour we went back to the house so I could pick up my bag before going to meet one of her friends in the centre of the village for some beers (non-alcoholic for me, obvs). Another nice chat and more opportunities for us to practice our Spanish (and for her to practice her English) and then it was time to leave and head back into the big city. A flying visit, but I enjoyed it. Will need to go back again because it looks like there’s a decent hiking trail there which I’d quite like to do.
This week is another busy one because I have both my Christmas lunches, so very much looking forward to that! I should also probably buy some Christmas pressies at some point and think about starting packing for going home. Not long now until I’m back! Is it really sad that I’m already excited for my early Christmas dinner during my stupidly long layover in Stansted?!