One of the first things I heard from Santiago (the gentleman who picked us up from the airport when we arrived in Málaga, and has helped with various relocation-tasks) on the journey from Málaga airport into the city. Mr H had heard the same thing, from more than one person.
A few weeks later, as Santiago was taking us to view some houses, he was shaking his head telling me how crazy it was going to be: “Imagine, people starting drinking at 12 o’clock, in this heat. They are all drunk by 2pm!”
So what is this fair all about?
Every year, during the third week in August, the city of Málaga has it’s annual fair, or feria. Ostensibly, the purpose of the feria is to commemorate the re-conquering of Málaga by the Catholic monarchy of the time (Isabella & Ferdinand) from Muslim rule in 1487. To me it seemed that the purpose was to get as drunk as possible by necking back as many tiny plastic cupfuls of Cartojal as you could.
The centre of Málaga, which had normally been quietly buzzing in the middle of the day became very busy and boisterous. Doors which I’d thought were shut for good, would open onto rooms full of people partying. Streets which are normally deserted between 2pm – 6pm were packed full of people. Bars, some of which were normally void of any clientele, were standing room only. Men in pink shirts were seen wheeling pink boxes of bottles of Cartojal to drinking establishments and convenience stores. Temporary waste bins were set up every 20 metres on every street of the old town. Ladies were seen sporting, mostly spotty, fancy dresses. Men were still in their shorts. Purple, green and white lanterns were hung above the main shopping street. And a general sense of happiness and enthusiasm pervaded.
It was a little bit crazy. But I really didn’t mind. I quite enjoyed wandering around, seeing everyone having such a good time. We joined in with the Cartojal drinking. But after Eilidh was in bed, in the comfort of our apartment. Rock ‘n roll we are not.
The Monday after the feria ended, the city was eerily quiet. A week before, temporary bars and shade had been erected in the central square (Plaza de la Concepcion). This week they were being taken down. The sticky concrete was being washed and as many broken shards as possible of Cartojal cups were being swept up. And from then onwards it was business as usual in the city. Until next year.