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Losing track

I like to think that I usually have some idea of what's going on and why but today it took a fair bit of Googling to find out what was happening within metres of where I work.

I was teaching; the building I work in is on the main town square, and suddenly we could hear the sound of pipes and drums. I joined the youngsters at the window to see what was going on. Lots of women wearing traditional frocks accompanied by a drum and pipe band were crossing the square and heading for the Town Hall. I asked what they were up to and they told me it was just a "Charra" out for the fun of it. Trying to get a definition of a charra proved beyond their capability in both Spanish and English but we settled on a traditional music group. As a result of the Googling I'm not sure whether the word comes from Charro - the name given to the local landscape and hence all things traditional around here or whether it's from the name of one of the traditional instruments. In either case I thought that the young people's assertion that they were simply out for a lark was a bit unlikely.

My next group were adults. They told me that today was the day of the "Águedas". The local river is called the Agueda so I presumed some link. Apparently not, the name comes from a Saint Águeda, and the event takes place all over Castilla y Leon region. It's a day when women, symbolically, take over the control of local government and in the case of Ciudad Rodrigo the group I heard outside the window were on their way to collect the "stick", the symbol of Mayoral power in the town, from the elected Mayor.

There was more. One of the left wing political parties had issued a press statement to condemn the linking of "las Águedas" with any real power being exercised by women and went so far as to dub it a patriarchal plot but I also read that in Segovia the event was being used to protest violence against women!

On a much less polemic note as I walked home I noticed that all of the local bars and restaurants were full of women out for collective meals.


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