6AM. Woke up at the crack and decided to get up – threw on thick socks, lulus and sweatshirt (apartment unheated) – eager for my morning cafe con leche fresh from the divine Nespresso machine (I’m almost a convert, but they have to come up with recyclable pods).
Then… thought I’d check for February festivals in Mallorca – wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any.
Oh look, here’s one in the Cathedral de Santa Maria in Palma. Wow, that looks fantastic. An amazing trick of the light that only happens twice a year. Gotta see that!
When is it? Oh – February 2nd – wait – isn’t that today? Yes it is. Funny you should ask.
What time? 8.30AM
8.30AM! That’s 2 hours from now. Siri! Wake up and tell me if I can make it. (Palma is at least an hour’s drive on the other side of the island.)
Siri says yes if I leg it out the door on the spot. No shower. No change. No breakfast. Just grab camera(s) and go NOW.
So I did.
And let me say this – Cameron Olds – it’s a good job neither you nor anyone else was in the car with me – as I hurtled across the island and into the Palma rush hour – with Google Siri (Giri?) as my guiding light. She was doing a great job until I got near the cathedral – then, as usual, there was a ‘no entry’ where she thought there was an entry, and in two seconds flat she’s having a hissy fit while I’ve turned down a true labyrinth of streets so narrow that – no exaggeration whatsoever – two of the corners took 5 point turns in order to round.
I then came out onto a pedestrian plaza where I was clearly NOT supposed to be – and retreating sheepishly from that – aiming for at least a regular width street – I careened around vowing to park anywhere large enough to stick the car – ending up in the midst of a throng of people all milling around and lining up to enter the cathedral.
Mucho disapproving teachers and crocodiles of young school kids – the lot.
Having inched my way back up the street – I careened around some more – despairing that I’d never find a spot and even if did I’d be at the back of the cathedral line and probably be too late for the ‘event’.
Now I don’t believe in divine intervention – or divine anything really – but I do wonder at the force that led me to fly around a roundabout – that I hadn’t even realized was a roundabout – and straight into what I thought was an ill-advised underpass (it was too late to change lanes) – only to find that I’d actually driven straight into a parking garage! A real legit municipal parking garage.
God to Nicole – put that in your pipe and smoke it baby! 8.15AM.
THE FIESTA DE LA CANDELARIA
Easy to find the cathedral from there as a) it’s huge and b) everyone was walking quickly towards it. And then . . . more tiny little miracles ensued. I joined the end of the line – which was round the block – but in no particular hurry. No one was stressed or looking at their watch. We just trundled along as I assumed bags were being checked or people were being directed inside the cathedral.
All those assumptions were incorrect. There was not a single official inside. Nobody telling anyone where to go or not to crowd or do this or that. Just a quietly respectful throng of people – all ages – staring up at the stain glass windows. I was able to just walk in and find a pew – no crush – no people saving rows of seats. It truly was amazing.
So – if you’re still reading – you might want to know what this little festival was about. It’s called the Fiesta de la Candelaria – in celebration of the fact that twice a year sunlight shines through the ‘roseton’ stained glass window at the business end of the cathedral – and forms a perfectly reflected ‘roseton’ directly beneath the stained glass window at the other end.
And yes – I was there in time to witness it – smiling and spellbound as the ‘roseton’ crept across the wall to the perfect spot – and joining in the very marvellous spontaneous applause when it finally arrived.
It’ s one of those things – in spite of the efforts of pretty much everyone in the cathedral – that a photograph cannot do justice to without a ton of equipment and probably a step ladder. But here’s what I recorded anyway…