A Long Weekend


The older residents of the pueblo are going about their business as normal, but each keeping one eye on the skies. Although the statistics say that rain is unlikely for the Easter parades, once seen through the distorting mirror of folk memory it looks all the more probable; the images of wailing hysteria among the rained-off costaleros tend to stick in the memory.

These elder generations could, themselves, cope admirably with such setbacks. A ruined ceremony is hardly the worst thing they’ve ever experienced, after all. Their current fears of bad weather are instead for their children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces, who have spent all of their free time in recent months making costumes, rehearsing the carrying of the religious icons, and performing the drum beats and slow march of the penitents. The cancellation of the big day due to a bad spell of weather is something they can barely stand. That the cause could be interpreted as an act of God doesn’t seem to provide any comfort. ... read more

Compensating for Drift


The animated chart on the television screen by the cafeteria is a little disconcerting; according to the flickering arrow, the bow of our ferry will run aground on the north Brittany coast, somewhere around Plouguerneau. Watching for a moment, though, makes it clear that our actual path is a little way off from the ship’s heading, the Captain accurately following an imaginary line that will see us slide past Ushant and south into the Bay of Biscay and, ultimately, to Bilbao.

The discrepancy in our direction is, of course, to compensate for the motion of the wind and water, which have their own ideas about where we should be headed. Navigating on the sea is not like driving along a road. Were the engines to stop, we wouldn’t coast gently to a halt, but instead would be carried who-knows-where by the tides, winds and currents. ... read more