Oboy! More narrative discontinuity!
On the plane to Barcelona from JFK, most of my neighbors were Delta flight attendants, headed to Barcelona to crew some future flights to the U.S. One of them was new, and asked the crew what its being Good Friday when we landed meant in terms of things being open and so on. One of the folks was from Barcelona himself, and he said that not much would be open -- restaurants excepted -- and that there would be a huge parade. I asked him for details of this, and he gave some. Basically, what he had to say was a condensed and less specific version of this.
As I checked into the hotel, the lady at the desk said that oh, yes, it was definitely not to be missed, and so around 4:45, I headed down the Ramblas to the street where the parade would cross on its way to the Cathedral, carrer de l'Hospital. Remarkably, the thing seemed to be starting on time, as a couple of horsemen made their way up the street and the cops pushed people back from the parade route, hemming it in with some tape.
The first to arrive were two guys in old-time uniforms atop two magnificent horses.
That, however, was all we got to see for a long time. Off in the distance, though, Jesus was coming.
First, however, were these spooky people, some of whom were women.
The various devotional articles they carried were beautiful, and, like the shrines being carried, no doubt lived most of the year in the church. There was an honor guard for Christ, and everyone in the parade took it very seriously, as the woman below seems to show. The priestlet (I guess he's actually an altar boy) is giving a dirty look to the guy whose head is at the lower left, who was snapping the parade with an iPad. Note to digital idiots: if you want to take a picture, buy a camera. Don't hold something the size of a magazine up and block everyone else's view. He became so obnoxious the police moved him on.
At any rate, Jesus had his own band, made up of bagpipers, and I wished I'd recorded them, because the music was sweet and not the kind of thing one hears every day.
Following these folks came barefoot penitents, carrying crosses.
Some of them enhanced the experience.
More KKK-looking guys, this time with green velvet caps and doublets and white gowns.
I haven't researched any of this particular phenomenon, but I believe these all are members of societies within the congregations devoted to worship of a particular saint or aspect of the religion. At any rate, they were the honor guard for the guest of honor, whose float was next.
The Virgen de la Macarena is the patroness of Barcelona, and as she passed, a man in the crowd near me, head thrown back in ecstacy, shouted "MACARENA!" to which the crowd responded, then "MOST BLESSED VIRGIN!" and ditto, then "QUEEN OF HEAVEN!" and as before and then three more MACARENAs before subsiding. Me, I was fascinated by her little buddy riding on the front of the float.
No idea what that's about. Finally, her float passed (these floats are borne by men, who, invisibly, do this all as a demonstration of faith, and considering the amount of silver and gold on them, this is a fearsome feat of endurance), a brass band (with a single bassoon, something you don't see much), visible on the left, played solemn music, and the parade moved on to the cathedral.
Much props to the Guardia Civil and the police, who kept order without raising hackles, controlled young kids with a sense of humor, and kept the show on the road. I was hoping to have this posted while the parade was still going, and it may still be, but the Internet at this hotel, which charges €17.95 a day for access, has taken between 12 and 35 minutes to upload each of these photos, there's a restaurant across the street I've wanted to try for a while, and I'm starving. So if you'll excuse me...
10 months ago