If ever you’ve considered immersing yourself in a huge Spanish fiesta then there’s one about to arrive on your very doorstep. The Santa Eulalia de Merida, Tuesday 7 January 2020, in Totana... A day not to be missed and an experience like no other!
Sixteen thousand people will ascend and populate the mountain sides of the Sierra Espuna near the La Santa church and the Hotel Jardines de la Santa (commonly known as the monastery to you and I).
A celebration that starts early in the morning and continues late into the evening, this is a great opportunity to witness firsthand an entire Spanish town coming together to honour its patron saint, Santa Eulalia.
Starting at 9.00am in Totana town centre, the statue of Santa Eulalia is carried on the shoulders of her patrons to La Santa church in the foothills of the Sierra Espuna. Such is the event over two thousand people will follow behind, slowly winding their way through the mountain roads where local bars and home owners open their doors offering refreshments on the way.
Although a religious ceremony with devout Christians walking the seven kilometres in bare feet (pecados) in penance for their sins Totaneros, in general, celebrate it with gusto! Smiles and laughter are in abundance as is the sweet local brew Mantellina, a honey, lemon and anise concoction which is drunk regularly and in some quantity
But the day doesn’t start there, the night
before a convoy of vans, trucks and cars can be seen ferrying supplies up the
Sierra Espuña, their goal is to find and secure the best barbecue sites across
the mountain in preparation for the following day’s activities.
Once the morning of the fiesta arrives every imaginable sausage known to man hangs from the trees, gently smoked from below by the barbecues cooking local meats from the surrounding farms. Even three piece suites can be seen angled around large open camp fires in readiness for the night’s celebrations.
On the odd occasion we’ve set our own
barbecue the night before, two phrases should sing out loud and proud when
attempting this, ‘location, location, location’ – quickly followed by – ‘if
it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ unfortunately finding the ‘perfect’
location and then wondering how such a spot could have been missed by the locals
is a misnomer.
That is until the following day when we spend the next ten hours standing on a 20 degree incline, trying to drink liquid from the side of a plastic beaker. Such a site was in part to blame for one of our group rolling sideways out of his chair and into the fire ! It was four days later when my left leg finally dropped out of my hip joint and thankfully lined up with my right.
Wander around the different barbecue sites and you’ll be entertained with guitars and singing, you’ll be offered food and drink by strangers and get the chance to see the Spanish at their absolute best. The fire, police and ambulance services are in full attendance throughout the fiesta and a bus service is provided by the town hall which leaves on the hour every hour, costing a mere two euros for the service, it’s a done deal!
So come and enjoy this incredible day and night of festivities and dip your toes into an amazing cultural experience. Even if it’s for an hour or two, you’ll be surrounded by welcoming Spanish families, eating, drinking and having the most wonderful time.
See you there...
The important parts...
What is the fiesta?
Celebrating the life of Santa Eulalia de Mérida, the patron saint of Totana.
What day is it on?
Tuesday 7 January 2020
What time does it start?
The procession starts at 9.00am at the .................. church, right in front of the square (Balsa Vieja)
How do I get there?
You have two options, leave your car in the town and walk the seven kilometres with the procession or alternatively drive directly to La Santa using a diverted, but well sign posted route.
What’s the best time to go?
Again, you have two options, 9.00am in the centre of town if you want to take in the full effect. Alternatively, if you drive up to the event and arrive around 12.30 you’ll be in time to see Santa Eulalia having a short dance on the shoulders of the patrons before entering the church to the backdrop of fireworks and streamers.
How do I get back down?
Jump on the local buses that will take you back into the town centre. They start at 3.00pm and finish at 12.00 that evening.
Not forgetting the most important part, check in with www.totana.net for up to date information before the event.