Paella with Rocío

Yesterday Soler invited Asun and me, along with some other friends, to join him at the annual paella organized by the Rocío cofradía. (The official name: The Royal, Illustrious, and Venerable Sacramental Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus of Nazarus on the Path to Mount Calvary and Most Holy Mary of the Dew Drop.) So, with a little name like that you might imagine an event that's, say, solemn, religious... Far from it. Just hundreds of people having a good time in a school courtyard. At least a dozen huge paellas and an open bar. Some of the paellas were really excellent, especially the first one we were served, which featured artichoke. We had a nice time and were most graciously served by the former "hermano mayor" Antonio Pino. Then the mayor came by to say hello to the Antonios (Soler, Meliveo, Pino) and we got to chat for a few minutes. It's funny, I've met this guy I don't know how many times, but it's always the first time. I understand, he's probably introduced to a few dozen people on a daily basis. In any case, he actually seemed interested to learn about Dickinson and I invited him to come visit. And to bring along a procession! Then, after this big meal, including, just to be consistent, rice pudding for dessert, Antonio Pino walked us up the street to give us the grand tour of Roció's new digs: the huge "casa cofrade" that was just inaugurated last year. Antonio's enthusiasm was quite endearing and he was a wonderful guide. We spent about thirty minutes admiring the thrones and learning all about the little details of the decoration. It's hard to describe, but they are truly amazing. And big! It takes 170 men to lift the Christ throne and 240 to lift Rocío! Kind of like visiting a big fire station, but filled with photos and paintings of Virgin Marys. The building is huge and includes a small auditorium with seating for 300. And, of course, a bar. In short, a clubhouse. And I joined up, so now I'm officially a "brother of Rocío".  Of all the cofradías in Málaga, over forty, this is, of course, the only one I could imagine joining. Rocío! La novia de Málaga!