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08·OCT·2012

Cartagena Floods Stop Battle

The sky was dark and the rain falling as we drove into Cartagena to watch the battle for the city between the Romans and Carthaginians. This annual fiesta re-enacts the storming of the city of Quart Hadest (now Cartagena) in 210BC by Roman forces from the sea. After a few wrong turns we found the hotel but could not immediately see any car parking spaces. Fortunately we had visited the city before so I had an idea of where I might find alternative parking and sure enough I found a space in a free car park, just a few minutes from the hotel, looking across at one of the city’s long-abandoned fortifications. The rain now was falling very heavily indeed and low-black clouds were sweeping in from the sea all but obliterating the view of that ancient wall. We decided we should wait a while before venturing outside our cosy Drivalia rental car. The rain continued: heavier and heavier it fell. The plan was to be in Cartagena in time for Friday’s early evening mock battle at the foot of the city walls followed by the ‘Victory’ parade through the city. However we were now losing faith in the Romans’ ability to make it in such weather conditions and debated the possibility of abandoning our 2-night break. [caption id="attachment_242" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Abandoned catapults before the ´battle´ for Cartagena Abandoned Catapults[/caption] We agreed to see if the rain would ease in the next 30 minutes and out came books and Kindles as water poured down the windscreen and hammered on the car roof. It was 3.30 pm on Friday 28 September 2012 and still the rain fell; we had no idea that we were actually experiencing one of the worst storms to hit the city in many years. Indeed in other parts of Murcia, and in Andalucia, we later discovered that the weather was having a catastrophic effect with the tragic loss of lives. At this point, for us, fortunately it was just a very wet afternoon which we resolved we would sit out for another 30 minutes. At around 4 pm the sky began to clear and within 15 minutes the rain had stopped and the sun appeared. We checked into our hotel and went in search of Romans and Carthaginians but, unsurprisingly, found none. Although dry, the evening was blustery and we assumed it was not the type of weather for mock battles and parades. Abandoning our search we took refuge in one of the tabernas close to Cartagena Town Hall, passed which the parade was to have passed, and enjoyed some drinks and tapas. Strangely the evening was disturbed by the sight and sound of a lone piper marching along the street: a Carthaginian perhaps who had not been advised of the cancellation. Incidentally if anyone knows how come bag pipes are connected with the Carthaginians (or perhaps the Romans) I would be genuinely interested to know. [caption id="attachment_243" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Cartagena Town Hall Cartagena Town Hall[/caption] It was not the evening we had expected but we were nonetheless glad to be there and now, more especially so, given the terrible consequences the storm had for others on that fateful day. As I write, my thoughts are with those who lost their lives and with their families and friends. The following morning we discovered that, because of flooding in some parts of Cartagena, Friday evening’s programme had been rescheduled for Sunday. The programme for this, the last day of the 10-day Romans and Carthaginians Festival, is usually light with the extinguishing of the sacred flames and a fireworks display; and so could easily accommodate the new schedule. It did mean that we would miss this part of the proceedings but we were not concerned: we enjoy Cartagena regardless and there was still Saturday’s Grand Parade to look forward to. And of course there is also next year.