Last weekend we paid a visit to our other favourite summer music festival, Pirineos Sur. Although this festival has similar music to Mar de Musicas, and they do work together, the atmosphere could hardly be more different. Pirineos Sur is held in the tiny Huesca village of Lanuza, lying just a few kilometres from the high central Pyrenees on the French/Spanish border.
So one difference with the Cartagena event is clearly the surroundings. The stage at Pirineos Sur is set on a reservoir in the Valle de Tena. Another, important, difference is the climate. At Cartagena I could be sitting there comfortably with a T-shirt at 2 a.m. and hardly ever feel cold. In Lanuza once the sun started to go down I was wearing two fleeces. A cold wind was blowing across the lake and the temperature at night must have been around 10º at most. On previous visits it has rained during the concerts as well.
These conditions account for the third difference, the people who turn up for the festival. Pirineos Sur has a more alternative feel than Mar de Musicas, with a very hippy mercadillo being held in the nearby village of Sallent. Lots of people camp (I tried that once - never again), and many others sleep in the camper vans or cars that fill the road between Lanuza and Sallent. The soft southerners from Madrid took it easier at La Casueña in Lanuza.
On Saturday night there was an excellent double bill of Malian music from Afel Boucoum and Toumani Diabate who probably thinks I'm some kind of stalker as I saw him twice in Cartagena as well. He didn't bring the Murcian symphony orchestra with him this time and the music was better for it. Despite the cold wind there was a really good atmosphere, the musicians had to keep warm too. Although the cold and the humidity seemed to play havoc with the tuning of their instruments.
We always try to combine the concerts with some walking routes, and this year I searched for something we hadn't done before. We did two excellent routes which I have added to the growing backlog of walking routes that I want to blog about. Despite the cold at night, we were very lucky with the weather, arriving the day after a week of storms and heavy rain had come to an end. The result of this was an amazing quantity of surface water on the mountains for this time of year, streams we have previously walked across with no problem before suddenly became challenging.
There was another challenge concerning my ability to remember even simple things for a weekend of walking and concerts. Despite having packed everything hours before leaving I realized with about half an hour to spare that the GPS routes I had downloaded hadn't yet made it across from laptop to GPS. Then, having travelled 450 kilometres, we walked into the hotel and started chatting with the owner about the concerts. At that point the inner voice that those of us who spend too long in front of computer screens all have suddenly intervened.
InnerVoice: "These concerts are the ones you bought tickets for aren't they?"
Me: "Yes, of course."
InnerVoice: "The tickets you picked up from FNAC the other day?"
Me: "Yeah that's right. What's the problem?"
InnerVoice: "These would be the same ones that you left lying by the TV at home then?"
So a big thank you to those who were working in the Pirineos ticket office who took the time to look me up in the system and provide us with substitute tickets. I have the feeling that in many other places the response would have been "Oh that's terrible, because now you'll have to buy new ones".