This morning I came upon a boisterous crocodile of school children – all dressed in red and white with homemade red paper coolie hats – dancing through the village streets to the beat of a drum.
Bringing up the rear was a surprisingly well coordinated Chinese paper dragon undulating up and down as the boy at the front confidently instructed “Arriba! Abajo!”.
Why a Chinese procession, who knows? In late May its obviously nothing to do with the Chinese New Year. Perhaps the school were simply learning about different and far flung traditions.
Just yesterday I explained to a visiting friend that in Gaucín there were numerous ways of getting to your destination and the route you chose depended on how sociable you were feeling, whether you were in a rush or were simply having a “bad hair day”! My friend, an architect, explained the concept of permeable town planning and the research that proves communities flourish in an environment where there are multiple ways to navigate their neighbourhood. “Maybe this contributes to Gaucín feeling such an alive, working village”, he pondered.
And Gaucín certainly can’t be described as is dead.
There was little point in trying to book a hair appointment in Gaucín last week, the salons were fully booked. Several of Gaucín’s bars and shops closed last Saturday so that their owners could attend one of the many Communion parties in the village. In Spain, a child’s first communion is assigned to a specific day each year and all the eligible children take part together in a long church service followed by lavish parties. This year a good many young pre-pubescent Gaucíneros were involved, and any building with a room big enough to host a crowd was turned over to these celebrations with two or three course meals rounded off with indulgent Comunión cakes.
Gaucín is ripe with pregnant women at the moment and there are new-born babies everywhere you look. When you consider the percentage of new blood being born to the village, it it a positive sign. “Good for the village” comments Salvador, a man of few words, “stops it dying.” The majority, if not all of these babies, will be born in hospital unlike many of their parents and pretty much all of their grandparents. Pedro (one of eight) laughs as he tells me that when he and his brothers tried to buy their mother a new bed, she protested vehemently…
“all of my children have come into this world on that bed, it is part of my history”
… and so the sagging, old bed remains as the village survives, sometimes vital, sometimes motionless but permanently steeped in its past.