This past weekend we had an interesting trip to El Rocío, the site of the famous Spring romería. Our students joined Manolo and his big group for the Candelaria, a minor celebration. We had bad luck with the weather, to say the least: lots of rain, strong winds, cold... The hotel was "interesting", full of senior citizens participating in Inserso trips (in itself worthy of an entry!) In any case, the Flamero is a classic example of the kind of building being done in the 1960s and 70s: cheap and ugly! This hotel needs some serious restoration work. Many guests woke up Sunday morning to find lots of water in their room. Asun and I were lucky in that regard. On Saturday morning we visited the monastery at La Rábida, the place where Columbus waited for Isabelle and Ferdinand to finalize their conquest of Granada, after which Columbus was hoping for some attention from the Queen and, ultimately, support for his adventure. The key connection here was one of the monks who had been Isabelle's confessor. Chris didn't go there to pray. We had planned to visit the reproductions of Columbus's ships, but they were closed, so we had to content ourselves with a view from the distance. Lots of sitting around the hotel Saturday afternoon, then a visit to El Rocío that night. It was odd: we fill a bus and make the twenty minute trip from the hotel and in theory we do this because there is a religious service in the church. But no one is interested in that, so we've made the trip to go hang out in the one bar that's open and listen to Manolo's group sing songs. Oh well, at least there wasn't too much rain that night. And the bar had pretty good coffee. Sunday morning was another story. A deluge of water. More sitting around in a bar. The "presentation" of the children to the Virgin was a curious ceremony and it was certainly interesting from a sociological perspective. Parents held up their kids and thrust them at the image of Rocío, a true goddess. Some seemed almost overcome with emotion, tears streaming down their cheeks. A people's temple: it was loud! Rather striking to be inside a catholic church and see people talking on their cellphones, for example. There are signs everywhere saying no photos, and some pleading for silence and respect. Hopeless. In the photo above, a recent dawn as seen from our terrace.