A unexpected travel highlight

The town of Baeza turned out to be one of the more memorable experiences of our trip to Andalucía. We arrived during the siesta time on a Saturday afternoon, which meant that the two of us were almost the only people walking the streets of the sleepy town. We saw a couple of men at the local bar, but that seemed to be all the excitement the town had to offer. Suddenly, on our way back to the car, three girls dressed in traditional Spanish dresses came down the road. We stuck around a bit longer and through sheer luck happened upon a small local pilgrimage. It was in honour of Our Lady of the Rosel, the patron saint of La Yedra - a hamlet of Baeza. A long procession of carts, horses, tractors, all decorated for the occasion, and pilgrims walked with the Virgin to her shrine. Apparently the origin of the worship goes back to Arab times. All of a sudden we were in the middle of all the local festivities, being bombarded with colour and gaiety all around us. We also took to the streets, joined the procession and listened to the locals singing various festive songs.

I felt honoured to be there, because here was the ‘real’ Andalucía, hidden in plain sight from the tourists, but allowing us to witness again the true reason why we travel: not to visit those sights that are packaged for the tourists, but to see those things that authentically broaden our horizons.

Image credits: Most of these photos were taken by my sister, Elanie Fourie

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