Our last day in Grazalema was a big day for the village—not because of our impending departure but because it was the 12th annual “Encuentro de Bandas de Musica” or, as we call it, Battle of the Bands. Town bands from Grazalema and two other local villages took over the main plaza in Grazalema to perform processional marches. The reason these villages have bands—and the reason they’re feverishly practicing this time of year—is that solemn march music is an important part of the religious processions that mark Easter Week (Semana Santa) in Spain. Music lovers, relatives of band members, and anyone glad to have something different to do in the village on a sunny Sunday afternoon flocked to the plaza to listen to the music.
We didn’t stick around after the concert to see whether a winner was declared. Grazalema was at a disadvantage because it’s the smallest of the three villages and because one of the other bands has spiffy red and black military-style uniforms rather than the usual polyester blazers. Still, to our ears, the Grazalema band acquitted itself well, and it definitely led the category of handsomest and most earnest band director.