Wednesday 23rd November, Madrid, Spain
Now there's something you don't see every day!
Maria and I got up early Sunday morning and raced down to Puerta del Sol in the hope that we hadn't missed the annual event of herding sheep through the centre of the capital. Tourists could be forgiven for thinking they had stepped back into the Middle Ages if they staggered from their hotel rooms to witness a sea of bleating, shitting sheep pouring through the city streets. Wool used to be the lifeblood of Spain's economy in the Middle Ages, and hundreds of ancient migratory routes criss-crossed the country. But these days, road and rail networks have cut across the old paths, forcing many shepherds to abandon the routes or use trucks to transport stock. So this annual tradition is a demonstration by the shepherds of their right to use the age-old stock routes to move sheep from northern mountains to warmer southern pastures for the winter. The shepherds are intent on keeping the routes open even though many have been buried under tarmac and concrete.
The chief shepherd, Julio de la Losa Blasquez, urged people not to build on the migration routes. "It's a tradition we should keep... The droving routes belong to all Spaniards," he said.
Oh, and even though many of you don't understand Spanish, I reckon you'll find these photos below quite amusing, even with my simplistic English translation....
Sign for life insurance company, with the slogan "Protect Your Life". Facing across a cemetery!
Maybe the neighbours need to buy curtains? The sign reads "Hey neighbours in front, we want to meet you. Ole, Ole, Ole!"
Not a staunch royalist, apparently. "My balls to the royal wedding!"
And my favourite, which goes something along the lines of "Why not let the prostitutes govern us, judge us and take care of us? Their sons have failed!"