Unlike the red carpets at theatrical premiers however the attention was on the carpets not those who were strolling up and down beside them prior to the parade. And no wonder – these carpets are far more stunning than the ones you find at theatrical premiers and they smelt gorgeous too. I took over ninety photographs of them all. Don’t worry I am not going to share all ninety here, only half!
It was much busier this year than previous years, and by the time we arrived there were already a lot of ‘carpet strollers’ promenading. Strollers all walk to the side, in between the ‘runners’ or like me do a bit of both as we attempt to photograph everything. Everyone is very careful not to touch the carpet before the parade, as only the torch bearers walk on the carpets themselves. The carpets are as you can see mostly flora, but in places there are brightly coloured wood chippings to help create many of the patterns and religious symbols.
This beautiful work of art stretches over two kilometres through São Brás de Alportel, and I find it extraordinary that it is created in less than six hours, beginning around 5:30am on Easter Sunday. They use around 3 tonnes of local greenery, lavender, rosemary, crown daises and other wild-flowers, all of which is gathered in the week preceding Easter. It cannot have been easy this year as the Algarvian weather has been very wet and windy.
I am tempted to help collect and create, or at least get up early to observe the creation. I would love to understand this incredible process and see first hand the techniques. Are the patterns drawn on the road first or do they work from paper designs. I couldn’t see any chalk markings, so suspect the latter. I am also intrigued as to whether the greenery is simply dropped into place or is as much care taken over these sections as the individual bouquets? I know if I am ever brave enough to volunteer to help I will need lots of instruction and supervision!
Eventually it is time for the strollers to move to the side and for the torch bearers to walk on the carpet. I am going to keep my photographs of the parade for another day, I do though have one final shot for you. As you can imagine by the time the parade has finished there isn’t much left of the carpet. It wasn’t soggy like the end of Jo’s Monday walk in Jerez but it is rather sad. Or perhaps it is more appropriate imagery of Easter. It certainly captures the destruction of our planet with the strewn torches, destroyed carpet and the inevitable plastic bottle. Jude, Gilly and other nature lovers may want to look away now.