Yes I know carnival is long gone. We are deep in lent and a grumbling stomach and a dry liver do not make great companions to write blogs.
BUT, there are always little stories worth telling, specifically as you, in less than a year, can be at the right place at the right hour.
Our friends from Cristosende – don’t forget to visit their lovely blog about weaving and basket making in Galicia – mentioned that there is a special event with traditional masks, in the mountains between Ourense and Castro on the Saturday during the carnival week.
Ever eager to explore new things I jumped right in – “Yes, great lets go there – can you find out exactly when and where please” –
Three days before we received an email confirming as follows – It starts in Maceda Saturday at 9am -!
Oh boy, it is a bit more than a one hours drive from us, which means getting up at the ungodly hour of about 7am, allowing for icy roads and scraping the car as we were still in deep frost. I’m OK to work until the early hours of the day but getting up before the sun…… it’s a different kettle of fish (Spanish equivalent idiom is – Eso es harina de otro costal -).
On that Saturday, after I threatened to disassemble the alarm clock, I scraped the ice of the windshield at about 7.30am. I wore so many layers of cloth that I had to go round the car to complete the job, whereas normally I can just lean over. Needless to say that when we started off I realised I forgot the camera and we had to hurry back, as I said early mornings is not for me. To write a cliche – we started into the sun rise and guess what, the temperature fell. Going to Doade, than across the Sil up to Castro and beyond our thermometer recorded -12C on this crystal clear frosty morning. The advantage of being alone on the road is that when following the dividing line it shortens the distance and thus the travelling time.
Now I have written before that the concept of time in Galicia is a more relaxed one. We arrived in Maceda at just before 9am and the little town was dead, no one about. Oh dear, have we got the day wrong? I’ll not manage another morning like this….. We parked and found a coffee bar. It may have been the morning, but the croissants on offer were out of this world. Whilst munching away we managed to ask the owner if today is the “day of the felos”. “Oh yes” he said, “sort of anytime soon, but don’t worry you’ll know when it starts” – he said with a slight smirk on his face.
Os Felos en Maceda “O Entroido” (el carnaval) are believed to descended from the Sierra de San Mamede to parody and satirize the feudal lord as a reaction to the abusive taxes.
And yes, you will know when it eventually starts. 5 of them invading a bar and creating a racket will make your ears fall off.
Two buses appeared and after loading the bells we followed them into the mountains to one of many remote villages.
This year two buses were needed and about 100 felos descended on the remote villages. Here is a link to a video Felos Maceda on YouTube to give you an impression (Turn the volume down – you have been warned).
Not many people actually live in these remote villages, but still they go out of their way to prepare sustenance, not just for the felos but also for the followers.
The potent coffee liquer went down well on this day together with home made bicca and other tidbits.
We followed them to some villages, its easy as one just follows the buses.
On a cold crisp day this was a great experience. If you are interested it is always on the Saturday during the main carneval weekend. It does eventually start – not nessesarily at precisely 9am though.