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May We Be Seven Billion

Candles

I run a professional website, and every time I send out a newsletter against terrorism I get a few unsubscribes. Maybe these ex-subscribers simply wanted to only receive newsletters strictly related to the theme of the website.

Or maybe it’s just coincidence. Although I very rarely get unsubscribes on newsletters with new articles related to the theme of the website haha.

But at any rate, I also feel that, even if perhaps it’s not the safest way to live, we still have to take a stand about things in the world, and stick to our guns about whatever stand we’ve chosen. And not shut up about it.

Someone – I don’t remember who but perhaps it was Winston Churchill? – once said that the only thing that is needed for evil to triumph is if a few good men stand by and do nothing.

I DO believe in peace, and in striving for peace. But I’m also one of those who believes that in the world that we live in, sometimes we have to fight to get that peace. Sitting around and praying alone is not enough (although, of course, it’s also necessary and helps a lot hehe).

On a different subject, I’m very excited because soon I’m about to reveal some news which is very very exciting (at least for ME haha). So stay tuned for that!

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, may we be over seven billion to spread the light of good and peace, kindness, respect and above all, tolerance, around the world and fight back the evil of terrorism.

And also Happy Chanukah!

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Christmas Eve Musings

Can you believe it’s Christmas Eve and unlike the rest of the country, I am not:

  • munching on apéritifs with my kids
  • chatting with relatives that I only see once a year (who don’t exist anyways…… maybe imaginary relatives haha?)
  • sitting near a fireplace singing Christmas carols
  • sitting around a Christmas tree playing the zambomba

(pic of zambomba, a traditional Christmas instrument round here to mark the rhythm while singing Christmas carols)

Zambomba

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  • out on the street setting off firecrackers (I hate firecrackers!)
  • cooking
  • cleaning the kitchen
  • washing the dishes

I am just lying around the house with my kids, surfing the net while my kids play together. And that’s wonderful.

I think of all those countless endless afternoons when I am not lying around the house surfing the net while my kids play together, because I am working.

I think of all those countless endless afternoons where my kids are not playing at all, because they have homework.

I think of all those countless endless afternoons where my kids are not together, because my youngest son stays with his father when I work.

So I dunno if our Christmas Eve is boring, by other people’s standards. And maybe I would’ve liked to have a bit more pizzazz in our festivity hehe.

But it’s okay. Christmas Eve is about being with family. And even though I live with my family (my kids), the three of us are rarely together, except late at night after work.

And right now we are together.

Just wish we could be together ALL THE TIME haha!

Well, I have been seeing lots of blogs wishing readers a Merry Christmas and happy holidays today. So whatever holiday you celebrate, I would like to wish you a happy one too.

Happy Holidays!

Butterfly

May your world always be borne…… on the wings of a butterfly……

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Hot Hot Hot!

Christmas Lights in Malaga

 

I’ve noticed that everywhere, people are posting photos of the Christmas lights where they live on their blogs. So I thought, why not do the same? When you come right down to it, the Christmas lights of Malaga are definitely worth it!

Christmas Lights Malaga

This year they had a Gothic cathedral theme.

I also took a photo from underneath the “Gothic arch”.

Christmas Lights Malaga

As you can see, the throngs of crowds admiring the Christmas lights were immense.

Of course, Christmas lights weren’t the only thing that there was to admire on the busy streets of Malaga.

There were a myriad of shows being put on by street entertainers from large groups to single artists. One very large gathering was formed of a group of about six musicians playing Christmas carols on the trumpet, clarinet and other brass instruments, plus three guys dressed up as the Three Kings of Orient to liven up the crowd. However, I couldn’t see them very well, because there was a mass of people around them, enjoying their music. Which wasn’t surprising, because their music was incredible.

Christmas Lights Malaga

But since I couldn’t photograph them because there were too many people, I went to quieter corners.

Christmas Lights Malaga

Christmas Lights Malaga

A young girl was selling these little cottages by a fountain for people to use for making their own personal “belenes”, or Nativity scenes.

Christmas Lights Malaga

What stroll would be complete without a photo of my kids? This is my son in front of the Christmas tree in la Plaza de la Constitución, Malaga’s main square.

Christmas Lights Malaga

I LOVE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT SNOW!!!

When I was a child it was the only thing I dreamt of for Christmas: a Christmas without snow. Of course, living in Canada, that was absolutely impossible.

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Holy Week in Malaga

The Sounds of Holy Week

I’m sure that by now, especially if you are a “Spain-o-phile” lol, you must have seen dozens of photos of the Holy Week processions (and much better than the ones I’m going to post here!). But have you HEARD what Holy Week sounds like here in Spain?

So here I am posting a couple of recordings that I made of the music that they play. Just stare at the photos, imagine a cool night breeze brushing gently against your face (it was a warm night though, 22 degrees), listen to the sounds of Holy Week and pretend that you are surrounded by crowds of devotees and you can even transport yourself there and experience a Holy Week procession for yourself!

Well I couldn’t upload any music so I made a video instead! I invite you to check it out here (I put it in my son’s channel cuz I haven’t got one, in case you’re wondering about the name, oooh I’m so behind the times……):

or here, if the above link doesn’t work:

http://youtu.be/UZrqljbkEos

And while we’re at it, I put up a new demo too on MySpace, I invite you to check it out here:

Medley from Serena Amadis on Myspace.

or here, if the above link doesn’t work:

https://myspace.com/120763532/music/songs

Well that is pretty much all we have been up to these days!

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Preparing for Holy Week

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Bye Bye Birds!

Holy Week in Malaga

I wasn’t going to put up a post on Holy Week, but we went to see processions and they were so beautiful, I just had to take some photos even though I hadn’t brought the camera along. But I’ve got a mobile phone, even though it doesn’t take such nice photos as the camera.

Cross

On Holy Thursday, the city is filled with processions running up and down all over the place. You can do like what we started to do, which was “procession hopping”, jumping about from one procession to another to see all the different religious statues, or tronos.

However we soon got tired of that activity, and just decided to situate ourselves next to the Alameda, the main thoroughfare in Malaga, because all the processions pass down that way at some point.

Penitents

These people carrying a glittering cross and wearing “cone hats” are penitents.

Trono de virgen

There’s a lot of religious fervour and excitement during Holy Week processions. Even people who haven’t entered into a church for the past fifty years feel awe-struck.

Spectators also applaud the brave and strong men who bear the tronos as they pass by. Each trono-bearer is carrying about 20 kg. on his shoulder. This is very exhausting work and they deserve all that applause, encouragement and confetti!

Niños aburridosHowever, the ones who would probably rather be sitting at home playing with their Nintendo or Gamebox are…… the kiddies. Here are some who are clearly bored out of their minds. But fortunately, today we have portable electronic apparatuses to play with.

Rows of Penitents

My son was quite fascinated by the penitents. He told me that he wanted me to fashion him a cone-shaped hat covered with velvet to wear around the house, and a huge gilded staff like the ones that the penitents carry.

My son’s cousin, a hale and hearty teenager, decided to participate in a procession this year bearing a trono. This wasn’t due to any religious zeal. He just wanted to know what it felt like. He ended up all ground up and declared that he was never going to do this again.

A little boy by our side apparently also had his father carrying a trono. As the statue paraded past us, the little kid just wouldn’t stop screaming at his dad to look at him.

Given the number of processions taking place each year, and the number of men required to make them happen, most of the inhabitants of Malaga probably know someone personally who is bearing a trono.

Another cross

Religion is a pretty important theme during Holy Week, of course – but so is partying! Everywhere we went, it seemed more like a carnival or a fair rather than a supposedly sombre religious event commemorating a rather tragic occurrence. There were people at stands selling everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to donuts and home-grown lemons.

Papas asadas

I think the line-ups to get baked potatoes stuffed with delicious hot filling were just as long as the ones to see a trono pass by.

Apparently, on Holy Thursday all of the processions consist of two tronos coming out of every church that participates. The first trono is always a statue of a cross, Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ on a cross. He is always followed by a statue of his mother, the Virgin Mary. Because if they were carting your son off to hang him, wouldn’t you go running after him too?

Cristo en la cruz

Well, I took a few more photos but I got so tired editing them, and besides which, they were all pretty much more of the same, and not such good quality anyways (after all, I do not have an iPhone!). In the end, what caught my fancy was this large tree with its roots hanging off of the high branches.

Tree Roots Hanging From Tree

I have no idea what this tree is called though. You can see the full moon shining beside it.

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Preparing for Holy Week

I’d been getting this post ready for the past week or so, and then I realized that I’d better get it up soon or as they say in Spanish, “se me iba a pasar el arroz”. Which just simply means something like, the right time is about to pass you by.

Sentencia

Sorry for the rather iffy quality of the photos, I took them all with the mobile phone, just little reminders posted everywhere as I walked about town, about the imminence of Holy Week and its numerous processions (procesiones de Semana Santa).

Semana Santa Malaga

People get really excited about Holy Week processions around here. Even very young people (like teenagers), whom you would expect would be more into fashion or clubbing than religion, show tremendous zeal and anticipation. And several young men that I know with big, strong shoulders can talk about nothing else for weeks except the “trono” that they are planning to bear around the city.

Cristo Triston

As you can see, everyone gets in on the act, and even the owners of convenience stores have Holy Week posters up.

Because, of course, all of those heavy “tronos”, or religious statues, that you will see marching around during Holy Week, are borne solely by the shoulders and feet of the “trono-bearers”. Each procession lasts for several kilometres, so you can imagine the exhaustion that these people face. But they are very proud of what they do and even compete with each other for the privilege of bearing a trono around town.

Encierralo

This is a poster with a play on words. It’s urging people to shut their cars up at home during Holy Week and come to see the processions by bus, in order not to clog up the frenetic traffic downtown. However, it’s also playing on the term “encierro”. Encierro means to shut something up, like your car in the garage, but an encierro is also when the procession is finished and the trono is brought to rest in its “home” in the church that it belongs to.

There was one other scene that I wanted to capture on film (well, digital film, nowadays), a religious scene that was set up in a shop window, but whenever I passed by the lighting was never right. Either it was too bright and everything was reflecting in the window, covering up the scene underneath the pane, or it was night-time and too dark. If I ever manage to pass by at just the right moment, I’ll flash a pic of it and post it up here too.

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Pa Amb Tomàquet

Oops, that’s not quite right, wrong Community, I think. I meant: pan con aceite!

Andalucia Flag

Next week is the Day of Andalucía, which commemorates the date when Andalucía won the status of Autonomous Community within the country of Spain.

People get patriotic and hang out flags, and in the schools they set up little plays (which unfortunately we parents won’t be privy to observing). My son’s got a role in the play his class has mounted up at his high school: he’s going to open the curtains at the start of the show and close them when it ends. (He hates acting!)

His little brother cracked up when “Hermenegildo” proudly announced his important assignment. But I explained that it’s very important that someone open the curtains too, because if no one does that, then the show can’t go on!

What the kids love most about the Day of Andalucía, however, is pan con aceite!

Pan con aceite

Yes, the schools regale them with a typical Andalusian breakfast: rustic bread dunked in pools and pools of fresh virgin olive oil.

Too bad this wonderful meal is also accompanied by homework assignments for spring break (okay, winter break, since I guess technically it’s still winter……).

Thought I’d close this post with a flash of almond blossoms. Living in da inna big city isn’t the hottest thing, but occasionally, we get a real treat from Mother Nature too.

Almond Tree

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On Christmas Day in the Morning

When we woke up on Christmas morning, my son looked out the window and said, “It sure looks like a great day to go out.”

So we went out. We actually went out in the afternoon, because if we go out in the morning the kids don’t pay attention to anything except their stomachs the whole day long. So it’s much better to fill them up first with a hearty lunch.

Parque Alameda Malaga

First stop: Alameda Park, the major park in downtown Malaga that’s right next to the port. We snapped a pic of the lush winter foliage and then immediately, we were off to the real object of our day trip: the Moorish castle that overlooks all of Malaga, the Castle of Gibralfaro.

Climbing Gibralfaro Mountain

I took a lot of photos of Malaga looking progressively smaller and more bird’s-eye sort of view as we climbed higher and higher, but those will have to be the subject of a future post.

Flowers Gibralfaro Malaga

Yes, this is really what Malaga looks like on Christmas day. Certainly not a sight that you could ever see in cold Canada!

Flowers on the Mountain Malaga

But then again, this is southern Spain.

Walls of the Alcazaba Malaga

The first part of the climb was simply stairs and more stairs meandering through a very pleasant park with lots of plants, especially flowers. We could see Malaga shrinking below us, but other than that, it didn’t seem too different from a walk through any other urban park on a mountainside.

And then we reached the castle. This is a view of the actual walls from below, when we first came upon them. These walls are probably over a thousand years old. (I’m not too sure exactly, would have to check up in the history books, but taking into account that the Moors ruled Spain from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, that would more or less be a rough estimate.) Formidable!

Oven Gibralfaro Malaga

My son discovered this mystery lurking in the mountainside underneath a sort of cliff wall, well hidden from sight from the main pathway. We’re not too sure what it is, but it sort of reminds me of some type of oven, perhaps.

Flowers by the Alcazaba Malaga

We wandered around the castle a bit. Moorish castles in general are known as “alcazabas”, the ultra famous Alhambra in Granada is the best-known example of a Moorish castle or “alcazaba”. However, it’s not the only one in Spain, as virtually every southern city enjoys its own. Most are run-down and not very showy, but they are all conserved as monuments and you can usually visit them. We’ve also been to the one in Almeria, not very well-known at all in the rest of the world (or even in Spain, for that matter).

Sunset Alcazaba Malaga

The sunlight glancing off the walls of this “alcazaba” reminded us that soon it would be dark. I found the colours of the almost-setting sun a striking golden-orange sort of shade against the red earthen walls.

Tunnel Gibralfaro Malaga

After admiring the setting lights we decided to check out this tunnel that runs underneath the monument.

It leads to the back of the mountain and, in fact, the castle itself is like the centre of a star and depending on where you begin your descent from the mountain, you can end up in different parts of the city, with each pathway down acting sort of like a ray that spreads outward from the centre of the star towards a different neighbourhood.

Flowered Path

But we weren’t ready to go down yet!

Steps Alcazaba Malaga

As you can see, we continued climbing UP!

Path Gibralfaro Mountain Malaga

Path in Black and White

Good exercise for the soul, and I finally realized why my son failed Physical Education!

Setting Sun Alcazaba Malaga

A last view of the sunset off the reddish-golden walls.

Malaga Cathedral by Night

I found this view of Malaga’s cathedral as we left the grounds captivating. The night air was behaving and acting especially crisp and clear today.

Bar Malaga

Of course, you can’t end a day like today without something warm and filling. So we took a different route down into the city centre so we could enjoy tapas. What a fantastic ending to a lovely Christmas day.

Kings’ Day Parades

Well a little time has passed since Kings’ Day and its very particular Kings’ Day parades. But then again, quite a bit more than a little time has passed as well since I last posted, I think. So, better late than never I guess.

Well, first, a little bit of history, because I imagine that in the greater part of the world you do not celebrate Kings’ Day, do you?

Big Doll Float

Kings’ Day is actually what in many places is referred to as the “Twelfth Day of Christmas”, as in: “On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me……..” (I don’t know what her true love gave to her). It is also known as Epiphany and in some religious circles, Christmas is actually celebrated on this day, and not on Dec. 25. The reason why there are twelve days is, I suppose, because that was how long it took the Three Kings of Orient to cross the immense desert and travel to Bethlehem, hence the name Kings’ Day.

Pink Castle Float

The Three Kings brought gifts for the baby, so now do they also bring gifts for every little Spanish girl and boy.

Kings’ Day is a very festive occasion, perhaps a Spanish equivalent, I suppose, to Thanksgiving, seeing as Thanksgiving doesn’t exist in Spain. Families gather together and have a great meal with lots of fun and laughter. Of course sharing in the “roscón de Reyes”, a lovely cake which unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to make a photo of, is fundamental in this family meal.

Smurf Float

Well, supposedly the Three Kings arrive in Spain on the eve of Kings’ Day, also known as Twelfth Night, as in Shakespeare’s play. I guess traditionally they might have arrived by camel, but nowadays they make use of every modern gadget such as arriving by boat, airplane and helicopter, bearing gifts to all.

On this very important Twelfth Night, or the eve of Kings’ Day, there are grand parades everywhere. All at night, of course. Sort of like the Rose Parade, but in the dark of the night.

Illuminated Float

As the floats pass on by, the people who are riding on the floats toss out candies and caramels to the crowd, and all the children (and some adults too) scramble to fill their baggies with as many of these caramels as possible. We used to do that too, but we hate candies and caramels and never eat them. I used to hang them up behind the kitchen door, thinking maybe one day I could put them to good use, until one day I discovered them all melted into one big sloshy sugary mess. That’s Malaga summers for you!

Religious Float

You can tell that this is Malaga, home of Holy Week processions. Even in an event geared to children, the religious floats have a place for themselves.

From these photos, it might look like it’s a relaxed and comfortable, spacious sort of atmosphere. A few spectators present, of course, as might be expected in a parade. But for the most part, nice and easy, right? Well look again:

Parade Ambience

Dancing at Malaga’s Annual Fair (And Roller Coasters Too, Of Course)

 

Malaga Fair Entrance Castle

So now it is true that some time has passed since the event of this post. But, well, it’s always nice to look back and remember: fond memories, exuberant summer nights, amusement rides, ferris wheels and dancing till the next sunrise. We’re talking about: the Malaga Fair.

The Malaga Fair occurs in August. So why am I writing about it now, in October? Well, because I didn’t have time to write about it before (seeing as I was too busy zipping about to places like La Linea de la Concepcion, which you can read about in the following post, or Barcelona).

And also because, as I said at the beginning of this post, a little bit of nostalgia never hurts!

Malaga Fair Lights

Now that everyone is all settled down in their workplaces or school desks, it’s a good moment to linger over those simmering days and balmy nights when you were free. No schedules to run after. No traffic jams. Just good fun all night long.

At the Malaga Fair.

Malaga Fair by Night

In Malaga the annual fair, which as I mentioned before happens in August, takes place in 2 locations. On the one hand, you can boil and broil a bit at the Day Fair which is located in downtown Malaga. This year we didn’t go, because unlike the majority of people I work during the summer. Hence no daytime photos.

Malaga Fair Cute Cottage

This is one of those weird set-ups that they like to put out on the streets. It’s a fake cottage designed to imitate the old country-style farmhouses with traditional Andalusian décor that used to dot all the mountainsides. You’re supposed to pose inside this cottage with your typical flamenco costumes and get your photo taken – for a price, of course.

At the Day Fair, people put out bars and stands on all the streets in the centre of the city. You can enjoy typical southern fare like crispy fried fish, chorizo and other sweetmeats on rustic brown bread. You can have a treat of paella, or indulge in some sumptuous seafood delicacies.

Flamenco and Gypsy

 

And of course you can listen to flamenco and dance (although the muggy weather lends itself quite a bit more to siesta-ing than dancing).

Everyone dresses up in traditional Gypsy costumes to go the fair. Women wear long dresses with lots of ruffles and gentlemen (and little boys) get all got up in vests and wide-winged black hats.

 

Although I was unable to take a picture of people sumptuously attired at the Day Fair, I did manage to capture a glimpse of what some of these Gypsy costumes are like during the night.

Malaga Fair Kiddy Ride

And at night is when all the fun begins!

Malaga Fair LightsPeople come to life at night. Not surprising, because the daytime temperatures (at well over 105 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 40º Celsius for people sitting around here in Spain) on a typical summer’s day, as you can also discover here in this hot post) cause everyone to wilt and faint.

The night-time fair is set up on the extensive fairgrounds at the edge of the city. You can walk there, like I do, because the night absolutely URGES you on a stroll to take the cool breeze! But if walking isn’t your style, or you live on the other side of town (or outside town), there are frequent buses the whole night long from every neighbourhood and neighbouring town.

Malaga Fair Castle Entrance

There are lots of things to do at the night-time fair. The kids and I are wild about the rides, and that is the only thing WE do there!

Malaga Fair Ride

There are at least 4 or 5 different roller coaster rides. My oldest and I love roller coasters, so you can find us on top of every one of them at some point.

You also have water rides, spinning rides, bouncing rides. And kiddy rides. For my little kid. Roller coasters and bouncy things just aren’t up his alley, but kiddy rides? He’d get onto 50 if he could!

Malaga Fair Kiddy Ride

If velocity and thrills just aren’t your piece of pie, you can still enjoy the ferris wheel. It’s very tall, and the views from the top are utterly breath-taking. Malaga at night, with its dazzling neon, spread out all underneath you at a bird’s eye’s point of view.

Walking Around Malaga Fair

A lot of people, however, aren’t into any sorts of rides. They are into food and drink. Concerts and dances. And they certainly receive their fill in the hundreds of little tents (casetas) where typical fare is served, beer is guzzled, wine is tasted and lively music sparks up the atmosphere the whole night long.

Malaga Fair Castle Tower