Out of the corner of my eye I spied a woman in a long bulbous skirt and lace headscarf hurriedly making her way along the road, dragging a small girl behind her. Where was she going in such anachronistic attire and with such haste, I wondered. I followed her down a narrow alleyway which led on to a broader pedestrianized street and I realised she wasn’t the only one dressed that way.
I watched as they made the finishing touches to their costumes before following them further down the street. They led me to a much larger congregation: people were milling about, some carrying instruments and many holding bunches of flowers. The queue of folk went on and on and stretched all the way around the block.
In my very scant Spanish I asked a lady with a flute what was happening. “Est un fiesta,” she replied. “Would it be ok if I took some photos?” I asked. They were of course obliging.
An air of excitement and anticipation gripped the assembled masses. I caught a couple of girls gossiping on a step and they were perfect photographic subjects, till they realised they were being watched.
The instrumentalists began warming up and it wasn’t long till the procession began. Crowds had assembled to watch – both locals and tourists alike. The musicians led the way and were followed by folk dressed up as kings, knights and queens. When I spotted a Madonna on a plinth being carried I knew something of a religious nature was going on. They paraded her through the streets towards the cathedral square.
Once they had made their way to the main square and in front of the cathedral, the significance of the flowers suddenly became clear: they were to dress the bottom of the plinth on which the Madonna stood to create a gigantic floral skirt.
I hadn’t initially realised quite how long it would take the townspeople to fill her skirt. I was on a schedule! I had to take the tram back to Porto Sòller. I never did manage to see the Madonna with her full skirt of flowers but I was touched by a pang of happiness nonetheless. You can plan photo trip to festivals years in advance but it’s such a treat to stumble upon one, unannounced and so unexpectedly.