Only one more week to go and it's... Luna Mora! Mark the date, Don and Doña: September 9th and 10th.
Under a half moon and in the light of candles, our whole valley celebrates the one and only traffic jam of the year and the longest queues ever.
Pardon, that's obviously not what we celebrate, these are the consequences though. If the past years are anything to go by, there's one tip and one tip only: be on time!
If you still try to get into Guaro by 10PM you might wish you never tried. And try to be hungry before all others are - or only after 3AM - for even if half Guaro turns into a bar or restaurant, at some point in the night standing in line for an hour to conquer a chair is no exception.
Do it in the Andalusian way though and no night is more lovely, no weekend more romantic and stylish, as the original and strangely appealing 'Festival of the auditorium of Luna Mora of Guaro'.
Sure, many a village has started to organise its own version - and still it's in Guaro that the feel its 'most Moorish'. It feels real here. It's one of those hyperboles of Al Andalus to be thought of an era of Muslims-Jews-Christians-living-together-in-peace-and-harmoney - which in fact was only very relatively so, ... historians found that in Guaro this was the case indeed. (Be it possibly only for the 'moriscos' - the muslim Moors who were forced to convert to Christianity - and the sephardim, the Jews who came via North Africa: not entirely kumbaya, it wasn't the garden of Eden our imagination wants to make of it, but still pretty pretty Woodstock when the rest of Europe was still scared of people of a neighbouring village).
Why not try it this way? arrive around 5 or 6PM, long before all others, so you still have the streets to yourself and see the slow build-up, explore the village before thousands do the same, have dinner or a bite - so you are well prepared to disappear in the crowd later on.
The Friday evening is the more calmer one of the 2 nights, on the Saturday evening the streets are packed. One of these uniquely Andalusian traits though that makes us fall in love with this region time and time again... everyone is cordial, there's not so much of a push or pull (and completely forget about brawls). Nobody needs to be reminded that it's risky to sit on a candle, or that we all play a specific and needed role in our community and deserves respect and attention.
O, by the way, what are we celebrating?
The Moorish heritage of Andalusia - our southernmost region of Spain that lived under Moorish rule for 7 centuries: that is more than 6 centuries longer than all other regions of Spain, which is the reason for Andalucía to have such a distinct look and feel: the massive wall of mountains of the Sierra Nevada acted as a Berlin Wall for centuries on end.
'The Moors'? 90% Amazigh (= 'Berbers', the original inhabitants of North Africa) and 10% Arabs, who in the 8th century were so advanced in seafare that in 711 they were able to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and conquer Hispania.
Gibraltar means nothing else but Gibr-al-Tarik, or Mountain of Tarik, after the admiral who led the conquest. We could say we thank the word 'gibberish' to the Moors. Admiral, of course, is also a word stemming from Arabic.
Ever wondered why the whole world has more or less the same word for olives (olives, oliven, olijven..), except the Spanish who come from left field with 'aceitunas'. Arabic. 'Gua' in the name of villages or rivers? Arabic (for 'water').
Not to mention that it's the Moors who brought the knowledge of Aristotle and Plato to Europe, and translated the ancient Greek philosophers into Latin, here in Córdoba, so that the Europeans who at that time still ate with their hands and were dressed in bearskin could also enjoy a bit of culture.
All this we celebrate. The amazing motor of European civilisation that Al Andalus was.
For sure, more often than not we do not know how to do so. For the Moorish history of Guaro is buried and has completely disappeared - the current town was only found after the Reconquista. The original Guaro ('Guaro viejo') was built around a Moorish fortress 2 kms out of the centre, where it was part of the defensive line around the Valley of the Guadalhorce.
Where we walk the nights of Luna Mora, used to be only the spot where the rich people withdrew in their farms, and only around the 15oos more houses and a church were added. What we do know: for sure there was no electricity. Hence the candles. The rest is an eclectic attempt to convoke the 1900s, 1700s, ... anything that brings us a bit closer to that ideal of 'the tolerant colourful times'.
What to expect this year?
Impossible to predict. In its heyday you could see the occasional coach from Madrid or Barcelona arrive by 5AM: thus terrible were the traffic jams. And for all we know people might have been demotivated by the chaos of last year, and decide to stay away - and you and us and 5 die hards will be the only ones in the village. We can't tell.
But, well, let's face it: the ferias are all 1 or 2 or 3 weeks ago, so it's high, high time for another one.