Walking in Spain along the Camino Ignaciano from Loyola to Manresa, and the Camino de Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Zumarraga, and a nearby festival of dance.

Wow!  That's all I can say about the last few hours!  I think I'd best start with the end and go backwards.  Tonight we are in the village of Zumarraga, a small one according to the tourist office lady, but we three think it is a sizeable town!

The day, though misty and overcast, was a good introduction to the Camino Ignaciano, as it was following an old railway line, complete with around 21 tunnels of varying lengths from about 25 metres to three longish ones of about 400 - 500 metres.  I say about 21 because half way through I lost count.
There was only one chance for a coffee break this morning - in the village of Azcoitia.
Julie entering one of the many tunnels.

Towards the end of this day we walked through the village of Urretxu and it was humming!  We had to wend our way through throngs of traditionally dressed Basque men, women and children.  A dance festival was on and people were there in their thousands.  Music blared from all directions, all of it traditional.

Oxen pulled the many floats, they too having been dressed in their traditional best.

The giant puppets were fun

After checking into our pension and having a rest we made our way down the street for a late lunch / early tea.  We didn't have the energy to make our way backwards to see all the action which was fortunate, as it turned out the action came to us!

There was a huge procession with bands of all descriptions, mostly tradional and using traditional instruments, though there were also a couple of brass bands.  There was also a sprinkling of other traditions too - from places like Paraguay and closer to home Galicia.


It is a source of wonder looking at these festivals.  The first thing that strikes me is that the whole family are involved, from the very young age of  maybe 2 or 3, mimicking their parents.  The other thing that stands out so dramatically is the number of 15 - 30 year old usicians in the bands, playing well - a huge variety of traditional instruments, or dancing in the street.  All are dressed in traditional clothes (although sometimes sneakers are worn rather than the traditional rope soled canvas pumps), proudly displaying their heritage, and having a great time doing it.  It is hard to imagine many in the same age bracket doing the same at home - yes they might play, sing, or dance in groups, but to parade around the streets in lacy shirts and black pin striped trousers topped with a black waistcoat, cumberband and beret is an unlikely scenario!
These boys even hold the staff / stick used to manage the oxen just like Dad!

Enough of the festival.  Suffice to say I have loved it.

Loyola!  Our first task was to visit the Sancuario and purchase our credencials.  We then picked up maps and got directions to the convent albergue - our accommodation for the night.  We arrived yesterday morning spending the day exploring, in between heavy rain showers, when we took shelter under verandahs, in churches, and in bars.  Nothing was open at one point over siesta time and so we resorted to a coffee in a bar for an hour or more - it's a tough life.
Siesta time in Loyola.
The convent in which the albergue was situated.

The Basilica at Loyola.
The Room in which Saint Ignatius was born.

Loyola and mthe adjoining village of Aezpeitia are lovely villages.  I was surprised, though I shouldn't have been, at the number of houses displaying mudjedahar characteristics.

It is late now, bed calls and so I will tell you more about Saint Ignatius in a future post.


1 comment:

  1. You are so lucky coming across festivals. I only saw one during the whole Camino. Sounds like you're having a great time. When is your planned end date? Ultreya!

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