siege, vows, pipes and drums

Only three hundred people,  mostly women and children leave the fortress of Hondarribia after a siege lasting two months.  Over 16,000 canon rounds have been fired and the city is almost destroyed.  But those three hundred people walk out, the city does not surrender and the French, all 27,000 men plus two warships are forced to scuttle away.  After two months the Spanish army relieves a city that has been defended only by local men, women and children.

This was three hundred and sixty one years ago.  However the gratitude of the people of Hondarribia to the people that helped defend the town resulted in a vow to the Virgin of Guadalupe (the patron saint of Hondarribia) to continue to thank her for her intervention during the resistance, siege and ultimate relief of the town.  That vow is kept to this day.

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We arrived on day one.  The first night we saw a single band, last night there were maybe two or three, this evening we lost count.

All marching and preparing, I hesitate to say practicing, because they are march and note perfect for the grand Alarde on 8th September.

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Three hundred years ago the defenders arrived playing pipes and drums and carrying what weapons they had from pitchforks to guns.

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Today they leave the guns and pitchforks behind but keep the pipes and drums.  Each night this week the town is filled with more and more people and more and more bands leading up to the grand finale the Alarde, when the bands march up to the old city and a great feast of celebration begins.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to have unexpectedly been part of these celebrations.  Thank you Hondarribia.

Love Gillie x

 

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