What a way to spend an Easter weekend and take part in our first small boat races. A crew of Plurabelles travelled to the south of Spain to compete in the 2nd International Dragon Boat Festival.
Read what our member Dara wrote about the trip:
It rains for an average of twenty days a year in Murcia. Imagine that
– just twenty days!
But it’s not just the glorious weather that makes this city on
the southeast coast of Spain such a perfect location for a dragon
boat regatta, it’s also the people, the beautiful coastline, the food, the
festivals, the markets and even the mud baths!
In April 2014 the Plurabelle Paddlers joined 14 other teams
from different parts of Spain, Germany, the UK and France at
the Second International Festival of Dragon Boats at San Pedro
del Pinatar in Murcia. From being collected at the airport, to the
party on the Saturday night and the paella offered on race days, the
welcome we received from the host club Dragon Boat Pinatar was
exceptionally warm. However, all niceties disappeared when it came
to the races. Over the weekend the competition was fierce and the
impressive host team took first prize in both Saturday’s domestic and
Sunday’s international competition.
With only two breast cancer teams in the competition – the
other being Pink Champagne from the UK – Plurabelle Paddlers
raced not only against other female-only teams, but mixed teams as
well. And, in a first for the Plurabelles, we also competed in 10-man boats.
The experience of racing these boats was made
even more thrilling by the fact that we were competing on the open
sea with large waves crashing against, and into, the boat. It made
our usual training ground of the Grand Canal Basin in Dublin’s
Docklands seem very tame in comparison! Despite the tough
racing conditions, Plurabelle Paddlers’ first team achieved a very
respectable fourth place in the Female Dragon Boat 12 competition
and received their medals cheered on by their proud colleagues.
Our stay in Murcia wasn’t focused only on dragon boat
racing. Many of the Plurabelles decided to test for themselves the
supposed therapeutic and cosmetic benefits of the free local mud
baths. Covered in a layer of thick, brown, smelly mud, the cosmetic
benefits of the process weren’t immediately obvious to this spectator,
but everyone seemed to really enjoy getting down and (very) dirty!
There was also time on the trip to take in a shopping excursion at the
local market, enjoy the swimming pool at our lovely friendly hotel and
sample the delights of Murcia’s many traditional tapas restaurants.
Easter is probably the most important and celebrated date
in the Spanish calendar and no more so than in Murcia. Plurabelle
Paddlers joined thousands of locals and visitors in marking Good
Friday by attending one of the many splendid Easter processions
that take place during Easter week. With magnificent life-sized
sculptures, hundreds of candles, beautiful floral displays, sumptuous
costumes and robes and the constant rhythm of beating drums,
the solemn procession was truly a feast for all the senses and an
unforgettable experience for all of us who were there.