surinenglish

Waiting

There's an air of anticipation in most large towns and cities in this region this week. Rows of chairs have appeared along central streets, people of all ages are chatting excitedly, planning excursions, discussing routes; some are having their hair done, others preparing to hide theirs under a velvet pointed hood.

Semana Santa is one of the few occasions in Spain when people know exactly what is going to happen and when. They have complicated guides, now even smartphone apps, to show where every procession will be at any given moment, and don't worry, it will be there. Ahead of us is a week of precise timing and coordination; with six or more slow-moving columns each formed by hundreds of people all making their way around a city centre at the same time you would think there was plenty of scope for major chaos. But no, everything happens on schedule; the only thing that can throw a spanner in the Holy Week works is the weather.

We've been waiting long enough now for it to stop raining that it seems only fair that next week should be fine, allowing the events to take place without a hitch.

Of course the whole affair still involves a lot more waiting, either in an expensive front-row seat, standing in a crowd or, for the clever ones, sitting in a strategically located bar. However the “waiters” know exactly how long they will be waiting for, and that makes all the difference.

If only that religious adherence to timetables in Semana Santa could be applied to other areas. For example, the wait to be notified about a hospital appointment would be so much more bearable if we knew when it would be. The wait for roadworks to end would be fine if the councils could announce a date and stick to it.

So if you happen to be out watching processions next week, while you're waiting to hear the on-time drum beats in the distance, try to think how this devotion-fuelled precision might be applied across the board.