Please excuse the tardiness of this blog post. In changing phone companies, which here in Spain are considerably cheaper if you consolidate your mobile(s), landline and ADSL with the same provider, we hit a technical hitch. The courier delivering the new modem and other goodies (free Samsung tablet, anyone?) yesterday couldn't find our house, and we kept getting messages telling us of an incidencia because we weren't at home, when in fact my husband has been sitting around waiting for the last two days. That's what happens when you live up a hidden track which isn't on any maps (which is also one of the reasons why we love it here - for the peace).
So now we are online, and looking out at a blustery afternoon - blue skies, big white fluffy clouds, trees being bent by the wind, and who know what will happen in the next few hours. The first pasos here in Seville are coming out as I write this, and so it all kicks off: Semana Santa 2103. It's worth bearing in mind that hotels are not full this year, so you might get a great last-minute deal if you still want to come.
This year one of the Cathedral's finest and most historic features, the Puerta del Perdon, is sadly hidden from view, as it is being restored. This sublime entrance dates from when the Cathedral was a mosque, all of which remains being its minaret, the Giralda, and the Patio de Naranjas, where the faithful performed their ritual washing before prayer. It is a huge shame that the exquisite Moorish gateway can't be seen, as it lends a wonderfully multicultural feel to the cathedral, which is the focal point of Semana Santa, both for all the thousands of visitors who come to the city for this week, as well as for the processions themselves. Each group of nazarenos follows the carrera oficial which ends at the biggest Gothic basilica in the world, sometimes taking over 12 hours to complete the round-trip from their own church.
This is the unofficial pre-Semana Santa, as the week proper doesn't start until Sunday - Domingo de Ramos, Palm Sunday. So the pasos which go out today (Viernes de Dolores) and tomorrow (Sabado de Pasion - there you have it: pain and passion) are the Johnny-come-latelys of the Sevilla cofradia hierarchy. Today's processions all date from without the past 12 years, with the most recent ones, from the modern, peripheral barrios of Pino Montano and Heliopolis, being a mere six years young.
One of tonight's processions features a paso which we saw a couple of years ago, by chance, on a beautiful, warm spring evening. Cristo de la Corona's Christ paso is made of cedar, a warm, aromatic wood unlike the heavy dark woods usually favoured for ecclestiastical furniture. Its rich tones add an unusual element to this procession, and it is also unlike others because it is not carried by costaleros, underneath and bearing the weight of the paso (up to 2000kg) on their necks, but by hermanos, who hold the handles at either end. Most pasos are covered in velvet cloths, but with this one, the carving and details of the workmanship are a key feature.
Cristo de la Corona, which dates from 2001, is also one of the smallest processions, with just 81 nazarenos (hooded figures) and 315 hermanos (members). It is based at the cathedral itself (referred to as Parroquia del Sagrario), and would normally make its salida through the Puerta del Perdon; this year, the pasos will go out through the Puerta de Palos, on Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, opposite the Alcazar. It will then do a short route through the centre, before coming down Constitucion and back to the cathedral - by far the shortest procession.
Last year Cristo de la Corona didn't go out due to rain (the statues are too precious and delicate to get wet, so pasos don't go out if there are showers, or risk of showers), so let's hope they have more luck this year. Their schedule for tonight is salida at 8pm and entrada at 1.30am. Fingers crossed.