I felt somewhat nervous setting out for Malaga Crematorium for this morning's funeral. I'd seen the signpost for it at the motorway junction, and written down the Google Maps instruction for getting there, but it still wasn't clear to me how easy they'd be to follow. My anxieties faded however as I approached the junction, as I recognised the building, still several kilometres away, nestling against a hillside, from the distinctive photo of it on relevant website. In fact, the route from the junction was very well signed.
When I got there, the place was a hive of activity. Just finding a convenient place to leave the car in the huge surrounding parking area is an indication of how busy. There are two large main chapels, and outside each I saw crowds of people milling around, chatting after ceremonies or waiting to go in. To the right of the main building is a large courtyard with a veranda running around it giving entrance to a couple of dozen rooms of smaller size where intimate services could be held or family vigils around the body take place. "In my Father's house are many mansions." I thought to myself.
I couldn't find a schedule of services to be held posted in any location. I bumped into the bereaved family who'd just arrived, like me they were wondering where it was all going to happen. An attendant was approached, who said there was also a place for ecumenical services (by which he meant non-Catholic) around the side of the building. I found it, but it was locked. The family had not been accompanied by the funeral director. They were just told the service would be in sala 3, but the only sala 3 was also locked. They were at a loss to know what to do next, and getting distressed. So, I went around to the tradesman's entrance to enquire, was greeted with cordial recognition and shown the way through the building to sala 3, which was then unlocked for us. It was the aforementioned ecumenical room.
After that the service went as smoothly as it needed to, and everyone came away content that the best has been mad of the occasion. As I was escorting the family to their cars, before hunting for mine, I spotted a small brick booth with a tiled roof out in the car park, labelled informacio. It had video displaying the day's schedule of services. None of us had spotted it on our ways in. We were all looking for a piece of paper on a notice board, of the sort you'd find in Britain - being British, naturally.
I drove up to Cartama to the house where the post-funeral reception was being held. In the warmth of the midday sun it was possible for everyone to sit outside to socialise. We were treated to chilli con carne for lunch. After chatting with people for a couple of hours I drove on to Alhaurin to join in an afternoon of 'messy church' activities around the Christingle theme. There were three dozen present, half were parents and grannies, the other half children of kindergarten and junior age. It was brilliantly organised, and a pleasure to take part in. Just as we were about to start, Julia rang up from Divonne-les-Bains in France for a chat, such a surprise. It was good to catch up with her, and in such an unusual place.
The event finished in good time to drive back in daylight, and get to church to Skype Clare before sundown and supper.