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Ceuta, N. Africa

Here we are in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the North African coast. The mountains in the backgound are in Morocco. The wind freshened as we sailed across the Straits from Gibraltar but an amazing number of dolphins swam alongside and amused us with their antics.\r\n\r\nThe sea is different now - much more Mediterranean. The massive swell and large, regular Altlantic waves have given way to smaller, choppier waves which are shorter and steeper.\r\n\r\nIn bygone times, Ceuta was considered to be an inhospitable, dangerous area where life was not easy in an arid region under constant threat. A large garrison was based here and a military prison housed 'dangerous' criminals. The town had to be defended against frequent assaults by Moroccan attackers. Things change. We had a pleasant stay with sunshine, blue skies and a cooling wind.

Ceuta, N. Africa

Easter processions started on Palm Sunday and one or more threaded its way through the streets every evening until Good Friday. They all passed the cathedral and some actually went through the church itself, in the back door and out the front. The centrepoint of each procession was the passing of floats carrying life-size effigies of Christ and the Virgin Mary. \r\n\r\nThere were three or four floats in each procession. We heard their approach long before we saw them as bands played sombre but loud music as the parades wound their way through the town.

Ceuta, N. Africa

The floats carried lifesize models depicting scenes from the Easter story.\r\n\r\nThis float has stopped for a rest, which happens at frequent intervals because of the weight. They move maybe 40-50 metres at a time then stop for a couple of minutes. You can just make out a man with a long pole to the right of the float. He is the candle lighter and he applies the lighted wick on the end of his staff to any candles that may have blown out in the evening breeze.\r\n\r\nThere are around 30 bearers underneath the float. The guy at the front is tapping a sequence which ensures that they stand up and lift together. Tap-tap-tap and lift, then off they go again. The whole procession stops every couple of minutes while the float-carriers have a rest.

Ceuta, N. Africa

Soldiers took a prominent part in the processions and the military have played a leading role in the history of Ceuta.
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