The fiesta celebrates the Carmen – the virgin mary, and is closely connected to the sea. But this year, is there so much to give thanks for? The fishing industry in Mallorca is in crisis, fish stocks are low and fuel prices are through the roof. Nevertheless the fiesta will still take place.
In the early evening of July 16th, after Mass is heard, the figure of the Carmen is carried from the local church where she has been decorated with flowers by the wives of the local fishermen. She is paraded through the streets of the Port, down to the sea, carried by the pescadores. She is accompanied on her brief journey through the streets by a traditional band. Then she is placed on a fishing boat and goes out to sea. Once the boat has reached the mouth of the bay she is blessed by the priest. Lots of other boats go out as well, all decorated with flags and bunting, and normally skippered and crewed by groups of people who may well be on the outside of one too many G & T’s. It’s a bit like bumper cars, but floating as so many vessels make the short journey out.
Later in the evening there is a Carre Foc which translates as running with fire. It’s advisable to wear a long sleeved top and long trousers as you literally CAN run with fire. The streets are hung with fireworks which are lit as another group parade through the town, this time dressed as dimonis (devils). Kids love to do this, and parents hate watching. It’s not that dangerous as long as you keep your hair and skin covered up, honest. There’s also a large fair which is along the seafront with stalls, food, and kids’ attractions. I hope the fiesta brings great blessings from the Carmen, as the fishermen and their wives badly need some good news round here.
The Fiesta of the Carmen marks the highest point of the summer season for Port Andratx. From this point on, ’til the beginning of September, all of the bars are normally full to bursting in the evenings as it gets hotter and hotter and no one can sleep.