Thursday night was pretty much cracked by the sirens. Straight after dusk emergency vehicles tore down the A-404 past the Satis House-ghost of the Venta Miralmonte, toward Coín. There was no more information to be gleaned by standing on the roof terrace. It was the night before the 3 Kings parade in the town. Every year a float with three locals dressed up as Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior trundles through the town whilst the Magi-impersonators hurl boiled sweets into the crowds of kids, on the eve of Epiphany. It’s still more exciting for Spanish children than Papa Noel, but only just, nowadays.
It turned out the Guardia Civil, Ambulances, Fire Engines, Policia Local and Tio Pepe Ramirez and all were heading for the Barriada Fuensanto. What a barriada is very much depends on where in the world you hear the word. In Spain it is a poor or working class district; in Latin America it is a slum or shanty town. Fuensanto has nice low rise blocks. However, it is home to many of Coín’s Gypsies… but there are two clans living cheek-by-jowl. The local Curé believes that tensions simmer below the surface, but mostly the two tribes rub along (until they don’t).
The street brawl started over a noisy party. Details remain sketchy several days later. In the aftermath, there were three arrests, three hospitalisations and two dead. The dead appear to be brothers in their 60s, from Los Mudos (The Mutes), stabbed by a youngster from Los Franceses (The French). They say. Windows were smashed and a car burned, other vehicles were smashed up with baseball bats, though no-one plays baseball here. Then the knives came out.
Put West Side Story out of your mind. Most likely this was an ill-tempered spat that quickly got out of hand and a teenager found out that it’s not like Call Of Duty and the guy he stabs hasn’t got unlimited lives or a first-aid power-up to undo the damage he does.
One of the dead was taken to the Centro de Salud, a matter of tens of metres from Fuensanto. The Health Centre went into lock-down, under siege from relatives of Luis and José.
The sirens continued to sound as people were removed from Fuensanto to the Guardia Civil Barracks in Alhaurin El Grande for their own safety.
I park down by the Health Centre when I have business in the centre of Coín. It’s no problem, I’m the Guiri Longhair – not invisible, but not important. Someone whose greeting is returned, but only in a perfunctory manner.
The sweets were thrown the next night during the The Three Wise Men’s Cavalcade.