Ex­pats visit Day of the Dead al­tar

Costa Almería News - - Costa del Sol Social Scene -

By James Lang­ton BE­NALMÁ­DENA’S for­eign res­i­dents’ depart­ment or­gan­ised a trip to the Felipe Or­lando preColom­bian art mu­seum for the town’s ex­pats last Thurs­day, Novem­ber 2, to mark the Day of the Dead and visit a tra­di­tional al­tar to the de­ceased.

The colour­ful al­tar serves as a trib­ute to the man the mu­seum is named af­ter, Felipe Or­lando Gar­cía-Mur­ciano, a Mex­i­can painter, poet and writer who spent many years liv­ing in Be­nalmá­dena and turned his home into the mu­seum, do­nat­ing his pri­vate col­lec­tion of his­tor­i­cal craft­works and arte­facts to the town and serv­ing as di­rec­tor of the fa­cil­ity from 1970 un­til his death in 2001.

Cov­ered in flo­ral of­fer­ings, photos, sugar skulls and other items, the vis­i­tors were told a bit more about the cul­ture and tra­di­tion be­hind the al­tar by mu­seum em­ployee Vic­to­ria Sabino. She ex­plained that it is not a “sad thing”, with the al­tar serv­ing as a re­mem­brance “filled with things the dead used to love”.

Sra Sabino said that cre­at­ing the al­tar, thought to be the only one of its kind in Málaga prov­ince this year, is a long process that be­gan in the sum­mer, when the mu­seum be­gan to gather ma­te­rial. Málaga’s Mex­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, and Felipe’s fam­ily, sent items to be placed on the al­tar, be­fore it opened to the pub­lic on Oc­to­ber 20. It was taken down last week­end, mean­ing that those that missed out will have to wait un­til next year to pay a visit.

Around 20 peo­ple at­tended the guided tour, and the guests were also shown around the mu­seum’s per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tions. It houses one of the largest col­lec­tions of pre-Colom­bian arte­facts in Spain, in­clud­ing tra­di­tional vases, jugs, and other crafts from Mex­ico, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador, as well as a gallery of Or­lando’s paint­ings and some more lo­cal his­tory, such as a num­ber of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal pieces from Be­nalmá­dena. The visit was a big hit with those who went along. An­gela Crofts, who has lived in Spain for five and a half years, said she “thought it was in­ter­est­ing, and it’s fun to learn about dif­fer­ent cus­toms and cel­e­bra­tions”, while Heather Booth said its “fas­ci­nat­ing to learn about dif­fer­ent cul­tures”.

Sue and Fer­gus Cof­fey, orig­i­nally from Sur­rey, said they thought events such as this or­gan­ised by the for­eign res­i­dents’ depart­ment are im­por­tant, as they are like “an in­duc­tion course into the Span­ish way of life”.

And Julie Bel­ham-Payne, who has lived in Be­nalmá­dena for 17 years and hosts ex­hi­bi­tions about indige­nous re­li­gions and witchcraft in the UK, said she finds it “in­ter­est­ing to learn about folk tra­di­tions”, such as the al­tar of the de­ceased, and the mean­ing of the arte­facts fea­tured on the al­tar, as well as the “sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences to the re­li­gions I study, learn about and talk about”.

The Felipe Or­lando mu­seum, lo­cated in the Plaza de Tres Cul­turas in the cen­tre of Be­nalmá­dena Pue­blo, is free to visit and open from 9.30am-1.30pm and 5pm-7pm on Tues­days-Satur­days, and 10am-2pm on Sun­days.

The group out­side the Felipe Or­lando pre-Colom­bian musem in Be­nalmá­dena Pue­blo

The colour­ful al­ter serves as a trib­ute to Felipe Or­lando

Sue and Ferg Cof­fey

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