Festival Patronales in Estella, Spain
Hetty and I went into Estella for our day off. Hetty had noticed a week earlier that men dressed like men on horseback were going around chasing and hitting children with white bags that looked like slightly elongated balloons. While in a craft/leather shop in Estella we noticed that they were for sale. We inquired what they were made of. Was it leather or plastic? The shop keeper nodded ‘no’ quite vigorously and grasped his groin area dramatically. Looking both aghast and puzzled we wondered what he was on about. Then he added the word ‘toro’. The realisation hit us that these white ‘bags’ were made from bull scrotums (what is the plural?). There was some nervous hilarity as we left the shop. The remnants of running with the bulls I suppose.
All this is part of the Patronales festival which involves, bulls, dancing, giants and big heads – go figure.
Hetty and I are volunteering in an albergue – a hostel on the Camino to Santiago in Spain. I hope, in time, to give readers an idea of what that involves. At the moment I am still learning about all the expectations myself.
Currently the helpers in the albergue come from the US, Germany, Holland and Australia. They may stay for a few weeks or some, months. The tasks include cleaning rooms, washing sheets, feeding pilgrims and the team, registering arrivals and catering to the pilgrims needs as best we can.
Last night around the dining table we had people from France, Ireland and Italy. I am told many nations of the world pass through this little hostel. Most take part in the home cooked meal and enjoy the community atmosphere. If last night was representative, the conversation is lively.
Pilgrims are also invited to a meditation time to reflect on the journey they are taking. Most avail themselves of this as walking gives people a lot of time to think.
The hostel we are in is in a small village just outside Estella. There are about 50 people in this village with very few amenities so our albergue has to cater for quite a few needs the pilgrims may have, most of whom are very far from home.
I have included a few photos to give you an impression of the environs:
The albergue with the castle in the background
A medieval bath just before pilgrims arrive in the village
The local church
The medieval bath