Moors and Christians in Mojacar, Spain

It was around Christmas time last year when the idea of nipping over to Mojacar for a break was first talked about. My brother and his family have spent many happy holidays there in his in-law’s villa, and an invitation was kindly extended to us to join them. We’d visited Mojacar before when we toured Spain in our motorhome, that time stopping on a patch of land with a crazy Frenchman and being visited by the local police. To ensure our next visit to the town was equally eventful we opted to go during the weekend of the Moors and Christians festival.

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It was a bit strange getting onto a plane, for me it must be about five years since I was last on one, but good to see that even the budget airlines now allocate you a seat so the boarding bunfight is a little less stressful. With seasoned pro’s to follow (my brother Murray and his wife Adele) we were soon off the plane, out of the airport, into the hire cars and onto the open road. Then another OurTour travelling tradition was broken, we coughed up for the toll road which cut its way across the hills from Murcia to Mojacar. Travelling in our motorhome it’s as much about the journey as where we end up, but on a week long holiday it’s all about getting to the poolside asap. Lightning bolts fired all around us, but we weren’t going that fast, we were driving through a thunderstorm. A text from Adele in the car ahead assured us it would be sunny by the time we were unpacked… and it was.

Loved our hire car company - notice how they have let the tyres down to fit in the car park!
Loved our hire car company – notice how they have let the tyres down to fit in the car park!

Soon we were drinking and eating (I love tapas, why don’t more places do it in the UK instead of pork scratchings and crisps?) along the beach front and instantly relaxed into holiday mode. It certainly helped that Murray and Adele seemed to bump into someone they knew in every bar, as well as in between bars, and Adele had pre-booked a beautiful slow-cooked lamb dinner for us to celebrate our first night.

Friday morning called for a supermarket shop, and we love supermarkets abroad. It took us just as long to fill a basket as it did the others to fill a trolley. We wandered around the aisles drooling at tasty local treats, reminiscing about food we used to eat in the van when we were in Spain (tortilla Espagnol and tuna salad mainly!) and gawping at the cheapness of the beer and wine.

The big event we had come to see started on Friday evening, so we (along with the rest of the town) caught the bus up to the old town and hopped off when it stopped outside a bar filled with costumed folks. The fiesta ‘commemorates the peaceful and negotiated surrender of Mojácar and the surrounding villages to the Christian King at the end of the 15th century’ (according to the town’s website!), but it looked like a great excuse to get dressed up and fire some very, very loud blunderbusses around the town.

In the pub ahead of the parade
In the pub ahead of the parade
Adele joins in the party
Adele joins in the party

I’ve seen films where after a bomb has exploded, there’s a high pitched whining sound and nothing else, then other sounds start to come back – that’s is exactly what it is like standing next to a blunderbus when it’s fired. The weapons were signed over by the police, along with the black power for them, to those taking part in the parade. An hour or so later they were piled up on tables in bars as their new owners drank outside, but then I guess everyone knew each other and you’d be spotted if you were carrying one and not dressed up. We followed the parade to the water fountain for the inaugural speech, then climbed a steep slope up into the town as the parade headed off taking the longer, flatter route. By midnight we were heading home as the parade was reaching the town, but we managed a quick stop off at our Mojacar local ‘The Cave Bar’ where Jim the owner rustled us up some much needed Cave Bar Burgers.

The speech officially starting the fiesta
The speech officially starting the fiesta
Moor costumes (do you see what I did there?!)
Moor costumes (do you see what I did there?!)
As we head home, the parade reaches the town!
As we head back to the beach bars at Midnight, the parade reaches the town…
...and the partying begins!
…and the partying begins!
Jay feeling at home in The Cave Bar.
Jay feeling at home in The Cave Bar.

On Saturday Adele took us to the beach where Treasure Island was filmed – it was miles down a long dirt road, but worth it, and we were treated to a couple of ibex crossing the road in front of us.

Treasure Island Beach
Treasure Island Beach

In the afternoon we missed all of the festivities, apart from hearing the guns going off in the distance, as we sat in a beach bar over-looking a beach they were supposed to be landing on – but it turns out plans changed and they were coming in on the next beach up the coast. We suspected this may have been more to do with commercial reasons than weather or historical ones. But we didn’t mind one bit as we had a lovely peaceful afternoon in the sunshine eating fresh sardines and tapas.

Sunday was the climax of the fiesta and Jay finally managed to get his hands on a blunderbuss as we waited for the bus back up into the old town!

We were lucky enough to have one of the best seats in town, in a restaurant overlooking the main square thanks for friends who had booked places way in advance.

Watching out for the start of the parade
Watching out for the start of the parade

After a late lunch inside we headed out onto the balcony to watch the parade. For almost three hours, hundreds of people of all ages, dressed in exquisite costumes danced, marched, fought and partied their way through the square and off down the hill, accompanied by too many bands to count. We have no idea which of them were Moors and which were Christians, but it didn’t matter, they were all entertaining. After a couple of hours it took a camel or dancing horse to spur me into taking another photo – but it was amazing to see. We hung around in the town for an hour or so to let the crowds disburse, then made our way back down the hill on the packed bus, the sound of the bands still ringing in our ears.

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We chilled out on Monday with another supermarket trip and a BBQ, as we had an early start on Tuesday morning. As we drove back across the toll road to the airport, we mused that we may have just had our last ever ‘holiday’. All being well from the end of September we won’t have to book time off from work, hoping no one else wants the same week as us. There will be no more stopping late to get stuff in order before you go and rushing around catching up when we get back. We’ll be back on the road and with many new friends in Mojacar we’ll be sure to stop by again.

We'll be back!
We’ll be back!

 

Into Spain - San Sebastián - Donastia
A relaxing week in Staithes
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