This weekend Almonaster la Real celebrated its annual festival of Islam – XVII Jornadas de Cultura Islámica. Three days in which the narrow winding Moorish streets are transformed into an ancient medina (Zoco), full of stalls selling crafts and food, musicians/ dancers/ and performers providing the entertainment. Folk flocking in from far and wide to enjoy the unique atmosphere.
Of which, one of the regular attractions is a display of raptors. This year set out amidst all the other stalls. Composed of three perches, each with three live examples tethered firmly. The thronging/ noisy crowds passing just a few feet away. And behind, the church, whose deafening bells add to the general din every hour.
These sideshows are often at such events (even in the UK), no doubt as an attempt to create a sense/ flavour of the past, along with archery, though falconry was/ is only ever a sport for the very rich. Displaying live animals (even in zoos) has always disgusted me, and this time it was no different, there were also three very obviously disturbed camels, brought in to add to the ambiance, paraded back and forth endlessly by their owners. Keeping any animal in captivity is cruel, but when it is done purely for profit/ publicity doubly so. Not that anyone else seems to think so. The local council promotes bull fighting. Local businesses slaughter an alleged three million pigs a year for the ham industry. Horses and donkeys are treated so badly at Romerias they have to be slaughtered. The list is endless.
But what caught my attention this time was the audience. How they are also an equal part of this bizarre freak show. On one hand they are genuinely drawn to these creatures, as if this could be the only time in their lives they would see them or get so close. Yet simultaneously without feeling the slightest respect for them or their predicament. It made me think, “who is it that is actually on show here?”
Because it seems the audience were the ones who were the more ridiculous. Compared to these wonderful creatures of nature, they have absolutely no point. Clad in a hideous array/ assemblage of outfits and decoration. Spending their precious lives driving aimlessly around the country to waste precious life at horrible exhibitions of torture like these, plus sate on what has to be the most pitiful collection of wares by the assembled vendors I’ve ever seen. We are the real exhibits. Life at the lowest end of the food/ developmental chain. Our brains totally burnt out from a diet of mass-media and processed food. Totally unaware of what we are supposed to be here for. What is good or bad. And if anything is endangered here, it is us.
It made me think of how many of these people could survive like those birds, by foraging or killing their own food? Always eating it raw? Create their own shelter, without tools and from what is just available naturally? Care for themselves, especially when sick or injured? Let alone regulate giving birth according to the food supply? We have become a species which has lost the skills to live, serviced and dependent totally on others. How stupid is that?
In the summer of 2000 there was a national strike of petrol tanker drivers in the UK. At that time we were living near York, and by the end of the first day all the supermarkets had sold out of food. Had this continued, say for a month, there would have been millions of deaths nationwide. If the electricity grid ever stopped there would be no water supply and the deaths would be a lot quicker.
Yet we each endure at least eleven years of full-time education, many far more, without gaining any of the basic tools for survival or the slightest idea of what it means to be sustainable. What kind of education is that?
High time to change our ways. We have to develop a respect for all living things. Stop using them to feed on. Stop destroying their habitats for our gain. And above all, teach everyone how to survive. Not with money, by paying others, but working with nature sustainably.
(ps the photo was taken late on the last day, two of the birds had been removed by then)