Monday, 22 May 2017
Later, at night, "por la tarde" - around 10 P.M - the marquees will be full of local "personajes". The Recinto is right next to El Bajondillo, the town's Gypsy Quarter. The night will be full of the glint of gold teeth and raucous laughter as cousins two and three times removed meet for the only time this year.
Bankers, builders and boys pretending to be grown up will rub shoulders on the terraces of the bars and cafés. The bankers and builders will seal deals that may not cross the urban planning desk at the town-council. Boys will look at girls - and women - and won't drink much. They never do. I often think how this might turn out if this small town fair were in Altrincham instead of Alhaurín. This first day, the day for the children, leaks into the night, all but the smallest children will still be around at midnight. Even then, young parents may be seen with a sleeping tot in a pushchair.
The weather has turned. There will be no temperatures below 25 degrees C until the end of August now. Despite this, the Guiris are easy to spot, in their shorts and flip-flops in the dark of the night and the neon of the rides. The locals will be in their near-best clothes.
Friday and Saturday are the best days. On Friday, most will abandon the office, building site or avocado field by 1 or 2 p.m. There are smiles for everyone, even La Suegra - the mother-in-law - a friend once told me. He was a bachelor though, so he may have been demonstrating an unjustified optimism. The streets will seethe. Cars will stop on corners, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings, windows wound down for the conversations family members and one-time friends have been meaning to have for - well, 12 months.
On Saturday, the colour and the clothes paint the white backdrop of the town's buildings with vibrant reds,yellows, blues, greens and - of course - thanks to the other of the town's Hermandades - purple. I am surprised every year at the number of people who are in traditional dress. The men with their impossibly tight trousers and bum-freezer jackets and the women with their tight-waisted dresses which their sister or best friend has helped them get into. No-one could resist smiling when the May Queen of 1972 walks arm in arm with her sister along the street. The sparkle in her eyes is a clue to why she won the accolade all those years ago.