I always knew Granada was weird, but not this weird.
This past weekend, I saw four people kiss a foot with an amputated toe. Then, they proceeded to march around the Albaicín with the lost toe…in a baby coffin.
And you thought your Halloween plans were spooky? Watch:
“Where there’s a lost toe, there’s an explanation”
Meet Chemi Márquez Morales.
In 1994, our man Chemi, dedicated neighbor of the Albaicín, was motorbiking down Granada‘s bustling main street of Gran Via, when all of a sudden a car came out of nowhere and hit him.
That’s when it all went down.
Chemi took his toe and his story to the court, where he demanded a settlement for the loss of his beloved baby toe, claiming that he could no longer contribute to the well-being of the government, nor continue his dancing career. (Details are fuzzy on what exactly his “dancing career” consisted of…)
With that story, however, he won the settlement of more money than any of us little 10-toed people could imagine.
As soon as his toe was amputated, he reclaimed his beloved body part and gave it the proper burial that it deserved, in a tiny toe-sized coffin.
The baby coffin resides year long at Chemi’s newly built Albaicín “carmen”, aka a Granada styled mansion with lush gardens and grand gates. It’s called the “Carmen del Meñique,” or “The Garden House of the Pinky Toe.”
Thought things couldn’t get weirder?
Just wait. There’s the yearly celebration:
Every October, around the time of the year when the accident went down (ironically, the month of Halloween), the “Romeria del Meñique” takes place through the streets of the Albaicín. While the majority of the attendees are from the barrio, there are a few stragglers who come from all over Spain, and even on guy from Peru...
In case you’re wondering, a romeria is a Catholic pilgrimage, sort of like a religious parade, characterized by hundreds of people congregating together and marching through the streets with floats, processions, flags, etc. It’s a huge part of the Spanish culture, as nearly every town in Spain has their own. However, not everybody has a romería for their amputated body part.
Hundreds of Albaicinero hippies get together, dressed in ridiculously unexplainable garb and galavant through the winding UNESCO streets of the Albaicīn displaying the meñique’s float, aka “La Hermandad del Santo Meñique” and yelling in chant “vive el meñique!”
The “it-toe-nerary” goes like this: The festival commences at noon at the top of the Albaicín. Continuing through the rest of the day into the night, the romería makes its way down the Albaicín’s steep streets while toerrific party-goers dance and sing in jolly song. Come sunset, the rowdy pilgrimage ends at Señor Chemi’s home.
As if things weren’t culty enough; at the toe’s final destination, the participants join together in gospel song and the leader reads an ode. Finally, our 9-toed friend Chemi shows everyone his foot.
After a long day of partying, the meñique is returned back to his home, where he can rest in peace for another year…
Until next year’s Romeria.
Photos by Oliver Ojeda at Indysay Studio, a photographer based in Granada.