Well, here I am, sat on my sofa with a cup of tea and some Cadbury’s chocolate; of course trying not to eat the whole bar or fall asleep after the craziness of this weekend (could I be anymore British) But, the thing is, this weekend I haven’t felt British at all, my heart has been here in Spain and in Lucena. I’m actually struggling to put into words what I saw this weekend, which for me, as some of you may know is a rare moment that I have nothing to say! 😂🙈 but I’m going to try my best to convey how incredibly lucky I feel to have seen this festivity.
I’m not quite sure where to begin, but I should really admit that when I arrived in Lucena I never thought the name Araceli would play such an important role in my life whilst being in Spain, or anywhere in the world. I can’t lie that it all began when little by little I began to realise that there are a lottttttt of Araceli’s in Lucena, it’s such a beautiful and original name. But it must be confusing to have so many Araceli’s when someone calls ‘Araceli’ in the street or even the classroom, sadly I don’t have that problem as I’ve never met another Dellisia. One of my classes has 5 Araceli’s in, and well, at least if i say Araceli, someone will answer. Well, apart from it being such a lovely name, I soon realised that she is the saint of Lucena and it made a little more sense. But this was only the start of my Araceli journey.
I quickly learned that I could go and visit Araceli on the hill, well mountain if you try to climb it by foot 😂 and that’s where my love-hate relationship with her began, I really really wanted to see her as I learnt more about what she symbolised and the important role she played for most people here. Anyways, to cut the story short, 3 attempts to see Araceli later by walking up that slope… I FAILED!! It was closed all 3 times I climbed, even when my mum and sister came. Let’s just say they weren’t too impressed, with my mum telling me ‘so I’ve walked up this hill just to see the olives I saw from my plane’ 😂🙈 well, it’s a good job that I like hiking, I got some exercise and the views are amazing , andddddd it added some more excitement to FINALLY see Araceli.
As you can imagine, it was a big moment when I finally got to see Araceli, but in plaza nueva and not up the mountain. She was worth the wait, but all the best things never come easy and good things come to those who wait! 💪🏻 I was quite nervous to see her the first time after so many attempts. The church was full of people admiring her and praying, there was even a small girl singing and dancing which was very moving. I even lit a candle for my dad in there. Also, I can’t believe I’ve not been in that church before, it’s been a mystery as I walk past it everyday!
However, it’s now time to talk about about the real excitement and the reason I’m writing this blog (I just seem to get distracted and waffle a lot). Well, these fiestas aracelitanas have really captured my heart and also left me very confused. The truth is that I’ll never fully understand the events of the weekend, but it filled me with so much happiness and emotion, even if I was mind boggled. It all started with the party that is the feria of Friday night. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the casetas or a feria, as we don’t have them in the UK, but I’ve decided that we really should start having these amazing social events!! 👏🏻🎉 before going to the feria, us guiris decided we should pay our own respects to Araceli, so we set off a Chinese lantern with messages for her. However, not all went to plan (of course it didn’t with my bad luck) and it set fire to itself and landed on the roof- let’s just say we quickly had to become firefighters to extinguish the fire, nobody wants to be known as the arsonist guiris😂😂 and well, wouldn’t be getting the deposit for the flat back then hahaa
Saturday really was something special to witness, and I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. There i was going for tapas oblivious to the events in plaza nueva, but little did I know that as I turned the corner, I was about to witness something rather unique and inspiring. There were what felt like thousands of people queueing up to offer flowers to Araceli, and some of the bouquets were incredible! However the most spectacular and interesting thing was a donkey, a real life donkey carrying flowers into the church for Araceli. To be honest with you it felt like a dreams and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, but it really did happen. Also, the dresses that lots of women were wearing was another intriguing thing, not to offend anyone but they did look like something from Victorian times, but hey, that’s my opinion and I’m sure they’re very traditional. I enjoyed the variety of colours of them that people wore. Well, it was a feast for the eyes, such a fantastic thing to see. Later that evening it was time for the, yup you guessed it, feria again with some friends here and one of your previous language assistants, some of you might know Caroline. She says hello.
Well, this final section of this verrrrry long blog (or more like the entire Quijote) is the Sunday and the part I really really wanted to talk about!! After my street stopped flooding and the rain eventualllyyyy came to a stop, I honestly thought I’d need to get a boat (I may be used to rain, but this rain was a whole new level) I was able to stop being a prisoner in my own flat and escape to join the festivities! I was told that Araceli wouldn’t approve if I didn’t dress nicely, so it was an excuse to be able to dress up and look like an acceptable human for once. 😂😂 So, we were ready for Araceli to make her way out of the church, and it was a tense moment as they tried to get her out the church along with the music, and I have to say I was in awe at the amount of people lining the streets to see her- a moment of pure joy! The orchestra played for her and the damas de honor lead the way with their multicoloured dresses.
Saving the best until last- THE SUNDAY EVENING!! In all honestly, an evening that I will never ever ever forget!! It was an evening of pure happiness, unity, joy, love and a moment I felt truly happy to be alive. I had no idea what to expect about these fireworks, but they did not disappoint. I was luckily able to get a great spot by standing on a bench in plaza nueva (perfect because otherwise I’m so small I wouldn’t be able to see, even with my heels) and as Araceli entered the plaza silence filled the air as everyone concentrated on her. It was truly inspiring and beautiful to watch as the lights were switched off and Araceli glowed and moved so effortlessly through the sea of people. I was already blown away and touched by the situation, but then the music began and the fireworks. THESE FIREWORKS WERE LITERALLY OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! I have no words to describe how fantastic they were and how stunning the looked with the backdrop of San Mateo and Araceli edging closer to her destination. I have to admit, the moment was so compelling, that it brought me to tears! But I really think moments like that make you think deeply about how lucky we are to be alive and to share such precious things and how we have to make the most of every single moment! I am truly so lucky to have seen those fireworks. Well, after trying to sort out my mascara that miraculously hadn’t ran down my face (I can’t believe I’ve found a mascara that when it says waterproof, it actually is haha) it was time for, you’ll never guess what, THE FINAL NIGHT OF FERIA!!!!
Anyways, it was such a wonderful weekend filled with hikes, partying, spectacular sights, time spent with amazing people and something I’ll never forget!! It was lovely to see so many of you around and I hope you all enjoyed as much as I did! I really think I’ll be returning to watch it again next year.