Callosa stages two battles during their Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) festival. I met Elisa on Monday at the Corsair’s filá, where they meet, eat, and drink.
Bands and filas began a slow walk towards the staging areas toasting their oversized drinks and sucking on Chupa Chups. The Corsairs went last. “You’re in Spain,” laughed Elisa, “don’t worry.”
I stayed just ahead of the battle as the King fired the first shot into the air. Unhurriedly, each group sauntered down the oldest streets meeting the Moors at the plaza in front of the old church and a small mock castle.
With intricately carved wooden rifles, they took turns shooting an array of orange flame and smoke then refilling from leather gunpowder canteens.
I wore earplugs and winced with each shot. The air smelled strongly of gunpowder and bits of ash rained down covering everyone in grey dust.
In that 50 square yard plaza, roughly 5,200 shots were fired in 40 minutes of battle.
Silliness and satire preceded an intensely emotional interaction between the Moorish and Christian generals, the former on horseback flanked by royalty and the latter from his castle. Onlookers teared up as the Moor’s speech went from friendly to cruel and the Christian king stood resolute but powerless.
A sword fight between opposing royalty won the castle for the Moors tonight. Tomorrow they’d battle again with a different victor.
“You never know,” says Enrique, “the way things are going, may be one day it will be the other way around.”