Around Town and Beyond

Written by Mike
July 2018

It’s been awhile.

So here’s the rundown of the ancient rituals and ruins; sea-side excursions; deserts; and the boneless, brown trout exhibition I’ve encountered in the last three months.


Semana Santa 

Holy Week.

I am sort of indifferent to Easter now that I’m an adult. It’s kind of like my birthday in that I don’t realize it’s approaching until someone mentions it. However, Spain’s Easter tradition (dating back to the middle ages), is very unique to say the least, and for the first time in decades, has got me lifting an eyebrow in anticipation for Easter of 2019. 

Performed by Catholic brotherhoods and fraternities (sorry, no Da Vinci Code coolness here, just church members), there are numerous penance processionals multiple times a day, everyday, during week leading up to Easter.  One common feature of these processionals are marching bands and  “Pasos” or floats with sculptures that depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary. 

Another commonality is the use of the nazareno or penitential robes for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists of a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. When I first witnessed these robes I was a bit taken back since they are very similar in nature to the robes worn by the Klu Klux Klan. Luckily the robes, which have obviously been plagiarized by the KKK, are the only similarities to this shameful, American cataclysm. With that said, I sill think the robes are a bit ghostly!

Even the younglings can participate!
Naturally I was very fascinated by the drum configuration of the processionals . This poor lad probably thought I was some creeper while I gawked, took pictures and enjoyed a full blown, drum nerd-out.

Pictures do not do this incredible piece of visual art justice. Here’s a birds-eye view from the front row seats of B-Rizz and Ellen’s terrace.  Note the blood on the bass drums at the 1:40 mark: Only the penitent man shall pass.

Just from the little bit of research I have done on this subject, it appears one might find a slightly different version of these processionals in different cities. Instrumentation, for example, might vary from city to city. In Logroño, most of the processionals that I watched were mostly drum corps-based (oh yeah!!!), and only a few had various brass instruments.

Bardenas Reales de Navarra

During the last weekend of April we decided to spend a night hanging out at the annual vegetable festival in Tudela, but on our way there we made a little pit stop in the Navarra badlands (Navarra is a region of Spain just northeast of La Rioja.) I haven’t visited many deserts in my lifetime, but this Mars-like landscape was stunningly un-earthly! With its gorgeous tabular structures, canyons and plateaus, it’s not surprising that an episode of Game Of Thrones was filmed here (Season 6, episode 1, for all you GoT nerds.) 


DSC_0876 2

DSC_0869 2
Probably Bardenas Reales most iconic image.

When we finally joined the festival that evening, we were greeted with the most insane, wall to wall, mass of people I’ve ever witnessed. Not surprising, my claustrophobia was in high gear that night, and even though we wanted to try as much of the veggie-themed tapas as possible, in some instances, we just gave up on entering some bars because of the impenetrable wall of people.

Rock-paper-scissors for who goes first!

We rounded out the night at a small, reclusive bar where one could sit in on a drum set or sing with the house band (just guitar/vocals and bass.) I was stoked when I realized that the house band played only metal, hard and classic rock standards. What joy! So, on a right-handed drum set (I play drums left handed or what most of the drumming world considers, backwards), I alternated with a couple of different drummers and muddled through some of my favorite rock and metal songs. When I wasn’t on the kit, I was embarrassing myself  by singing lead vocals and desecrating great rock classics that were way too far out of my range (I did kill it on Symphony of Destruction though!)


Me sounding like a cat in heat while “singing” Eye of the Tiger. The bass players face says it all!


San Sabastian

A weekend with good friends from the US in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.


View from our B & B
Motley Fools!


Such Sweet Sorrow: End of the School Year

At the end of May, I finished my first year as an Auxiliary, and not to sound too sappy and/or cliché , but this past year has, by far, been the most rewarding (though not in the wallet) and fulfilling experience of my life. I now understand that connection to the students that I’ve heard teachers talk about all these years, and how the end of the year really sucks when saying goodbye. Luckily, I got placed at the same schools for next year, so the end-of-the-year goodbyes got me only nominally misty.

Gifts and letters showered upon me on the last day. I waited to open them until I got home as I’m sure I would’ve been a blubbering mess had I not waited.
My students know me all too well.
I don’t have the words…

…a-hem…moving on!


Poop Culture

Yep. I’m going there. With something this detailed and informative about a subject that usually doesn’t get a second thought unless the plunger comes out or one gets the intestinal stirs with no restroom in sight, I feel implored to share. So those offended by all things odure, please exit now! And for those whose intrigue outweighs their decency, I give you Excreta, an exhibition, at the Casa de las Ciencias,  Logroño.

Literature! This is a serious subject!



I was kind of surprised that some of the samples above were not scratch n’ sniff.


Supposedly the large specimen in the top left corner is from T Rex. I don’t know, I guess I expected more from the King of Dinosaurs!
Brilliant! Safety first!

I cannot wait to see what the next exhibit will be!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s