Santa Tecla Sunday the 22nd has a late morning start; it´s the Entrada de Músics at Portal Roses, the entry of the musicians, the distinctive bands which will accompany all the individual acts of tonight’s greatly anticipated Cercavila.
It´s the sound of the Gralla, this strident wind instrument whose sound pierces the air which steals the scene, but there are also transitional brass instrument. A penetrating wake up call for those returning to their senses after the excesses of la Baixada de L’Àliga. But it does not take long to go back to the old habits as just up the road and stretching in to Plaça del Forum is the long queue for El concert de Vermut Yzaguire where the city brass band launches in yet another rendition of Amparito Roca!
On a personal note everything is swimming in a haze, a unique Santa Tecla mental haze caused by sleep deprivation infused by the sound of gralla, drums, Chartreuse, Vermouth, draft beer, dancing around with friends and too little water. This haze creeps in to the joints, clouds the retinas, and is akin to a very serious bout of jetlag. And this is why this entry is three days late.
Every empty hour is secretly treasured and dissipates in seconds because just at the precipice of that dream there are gun shots and canons, and flares going off and the drums. It´s back in to Santa Tecla twilight zone, the beginning of La Cercavila de Santa Tecla , largest procession incorporating all the elements of the Seguici Popular, the characters and zoomorphic creatures which seem to have sprung out of different dimensions and time.
It’s starts with the Ball de Diables de Tarragona setting the sky alight with hundreds of flares, which are followed in turn by the animals of fire, the Drac (the dragon), the Bou (the bull) and the Vibria. Competing for whom can make the biggest noise are Ball de Joan de Serralonga discharging their gun powder loaded muskets in to the air.
Next are the Àliga (the stately golden eagle), la Mulassa (the mule) temperamental as ever and charging in to the crowd, the irresistible Cucafera, the Lleó (lion), the Magí de les Timbales sitting on an ancient docile real mule and followed by a stern servant whose main function is to gather the occasional dropping in to a bag. Next are the elegant colonial figures of the Negritos, followed by the stately Gegant Moros (the Moorish Giants) an the Gegants Vells (the old Giants) and the much loved Nanos Vells (old Dwarfs) and Nanos Nous (new Dwarfs).
It is then the turn of the dancers, with the colorful Ball de Bastons ( the ball of sticks), the Pastorets, the Turks i Cavallets which seem to have escaped from a medieval chess set, the little Patatuf breaking out in set piece of dance, the Cercolets, so called for the half floral circle they hold in both their hands, the Bastoners de l’Esbart Santa Tecla jumping in to their air at the sound of a whistle, the elegant Ball de Gitanes swirling around a maypole, the Valencians i Cossis with their elongated head gear and the symbol of this years festival and finally the grotesque and enigmatic effigies of the Set Pecats Capitals i de la Moixiganga, with their frozen expression countering the gargoyle faces of those representing sin.
It’s a four hour long procession which engulfs the old city, down in to the Rambla Nou and then up again, finishing off at the starting point in Plaça de la Font.
By the time it’s over the live amplified music from different corners of the old city takes over rallying for tomorrow biggest day of all: the Diada de Santa Tecla.