El Colacho Festival, a la Crameye
Have you heard of the baby jumping festival in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain called El Colacho? As luck would have it, Crameye and his family were just there, and Crameye as usual was thrust right into the middle of the action. Read his account of events just posted on his blog in Crameye’s World to learn about the festival, as well as to enjoy a fun mini-adventure.
So, this afternoon I dressed up like a devil and jumped over a mattress in the middle of the street filled with little babies, all to the cheers of people watching. Seriously.
First of all, I should back up and tell you that I am writing this entry while on mission in Spain, or rather while my dad is on a mission and, like usual, I have been brought along to get some more international experience. Also like usual, I have been left on my own to go exploring while my dad does whatever it is he does, and while Mom and A-yi take Buster and the Lumpster on a nature hike.
Where did I get to explore? Castrillo de Murcia, which is a town in the northern part of the country in Burgos. Here’s map of where it is in Spain:
Walking into the town, one of the first things you notice is a massive cathedral. It stands out not just because it is huge and fancy, but standing as it does in the middle of lots of grey stone buildings, it really seems extra glittery. It’s called the Catedral de Burgos. You want to know what is especially awesome about this cathedral? El Cid, the famous war hero idolized throughout Spain and the subject of lots of books, movies, and artwork, is buried underneath. You can read more about the guy and his legendary feats here: http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/el-cid.html
So, after walking around the cathedral a bit, I decided to wander out into the town to see what sort of trouble I could get myself into. It didn’t take long. As I turned down an alley that looked especially old world-y and mysterious, I saw a man a little ways down, sitting on the ground and slumped over against the wall. He was groaning, too. I ran over to see what was wrong with the guy.
“Hey man, are you okay?”
“No! I do not know what is wrong,” he answered in Spanish.
“What happened to you? Where are you hurt?”
“I am very dizzy, and feel I am about to lose consciousness. I think the drink had something in it!”
“What drink? What are you talking about?”
“I was on my way to the El Colacho festival. This year, I am the main devil. It is a very important part of the festival. On my way, a man offered me a drink because he said he knew what my job was, and he wanted to thank me. Who will be the devil now? Who will jump over the babies???”
I had absolutely no idea what this guy was talking about, and suspected he was speaking a little bit of nonsense due to whatever was in his drink. Worried for the guy’s heath, I decided to run and get some help.
“No! Do not go! You… You must jump over the babies for me.”
“Okay, buddy. Sure, I’ll jump over the babies, but let me first get you some help.”
“I am not crazy. Today is the first Sunday after Corpus Christi. Every year at this time, we hold the festival called El Colacho. People who have a baby born in the past 12 months bring their child and place him or her on a mattress in the street. Then, people dressed as devils run through the street, jumping over the babies. Doing so is thought to remove evil and sin from them, and protect them throughout life.”
“Seriously?” I asked in somewhat disbelief.
“Seriously,” he confirmed.
“Seriously?” I asked one last time.
I knew that Corpus Christi (Latin for the body of Christ) was an important feast for Catholics where they celebrate their belief that the actual body and blood of Christ are present during communion, but I had never heard of jumping over babies before. When I thought about how important the festival was to the people, though, and thought of the guy getting a mysterious drink that made him unable to play his most important part, I immediately suspected the Erasers had been here. Determined to not let them spoil this festival, I decided to help the guy out.
“Alright, buddy. I’ll do it. What do I have to do?”
“Take this bag and put on the costume inside. I hope you like wearing red and yellow! Then, run down to the end of the alley and join the others dressed like you. Take your place at the front and lead the charge. You will know where to run by the mattresses of infants in front of you.”
“That’s all I have to do?”
“You must also threaten the adults with a whip if they get to close.”
“And that’s it?”
“No, one last important thing. The most important thing. Come closer so I can whisper it to you.”
I walked over, leaned down to him, and do you know what he told me?
“Don’t step on any babies.”
He then smiled and told me that he was feeling better, but still in no condition to leap over infants. Glad he was coming around, I threw on the costume, re-tied my sneakers, jumped in place a few times to warm up my leaping muscles, and then trotted off to find the others.
I found them right where the guy said I would, and they were considering postponing the festival or even cancelling it because their main devil was missing. I told them that I was there to take his place, and they were thrilled the festival could go on. I was ushered to the front and we waited for the signal to start our run. When a whistle from down the road rang out, it was time to go!
Approaching the first mattress filled with babies, I started to get nervous. The streets were lined with smiling (but nervous) parents, and they cheered when they saw me. A few steps away, I was still worried I wouldn’t be able to clear the mattress, but there was no turning back. I launched off of my right foot, letting out as horrible of a devil growl as I could, and sailed over the mattress, not even losing stride when landing. From then on, I had no problem and no worries.
A few mattresses in I even saw my family, who had gathered on the side of the road to watch the festival. After leaping over the mattress in front of them, I stopped to scare them with my whip. I even did a little devil dance I made up on the spot. This was each of their reactions:
Mom: Unfazed, she motioned that I needed to adjust my costume, then turned to marvel at the cathedral.
A-Yi: She cackled in delight, took a picture of me, and said, “Mr. Crameye. So cute!”
Buster: Mimicked the dance of a fighting bird to scare me back. It worked.
Dad: He looked at me approvingly and gave me a thumbs up.
Lump: He drooled. Cut him some slack, though, because he has some new teeth coming in.
I continued on the run to the end of street, and was greeted there by the guy I had found in the alley. Now that he was standing up, I could see that he was kind of regal looking—huge shoulders and stuff. I thanked him for the opportunity, and then asked him what his name was.
“I am known as El Cid,” he proudly replied.
Seriously? Was I talking to the ghost of the Spanish war legend? When he saw that I was starting to believe him, he laughed.
“I am joking, young man. My name is Esteban.”
We chatted for a bit, I gave him back his costume, and then went to go find my family. When I joined them, my dad said that we were going to have a huge feast that night to celebrate a good day. I am currently digesting said feast while in our hotel room.
We are headed back to Taiwan in the morning, or maybe to Mongolia or somewhere. Who knows with my family.
Yours in adventure,