Yesterday I got a call from reception telling me I had a package waiting in the foyer. Just as I was about to go downstairs to retreive it, my phone rang and I got distracted. A few minutes later I got another call from the antsy-sounding receptionist, telling me that the package was starting to melt and that I needed to collect it asap.
Melt? I wondered what it could be as I rushed down to reception in what I'd like to think was a gazelle-like fashion. Puffing slightly after my uncharacteristic outburst of athleticism (I was leaping down the staircase two steps at a time you know!) I entered the foyer to find myself face to face with a couple of skeletons brandishing a Hendrick's G&T. When I say skeletons I'm not having a dig at the malnourished state of some of the promo girls in Cape Town (someone really should start a charity for them or something); I am referring to the two cool cats below:
The little coffin was an interesting touch, if not a little disturbing. Was this Halloween come early? Was it a bizarre re-enactment of Sophie's Choice? Was it a... oh look a Hendrick's G&T! (you might've guessed I'm easily distracted)
After checking that the sun was over the yardarm (11:30am is safe, right?) I accepted the drink and my mysterious visitors disappeared. Through the front door, obviously. They didn't really disappear; that would be impossible.
I opened the coffin in search of an explanation but there was none. Only a bottle of Hendrick's Gin which, if I had to choose, I would take over an explanation any day. I uttered a bemused but sincere thanks to my friends at Hendrick's and proceeded to slowly finish my G&T.
Later that day I finally got the explanation I was looking for from the fine folks at Butterknife PR:
Every year on the 29th July, the inhabitants of the small town of Las Nieves on the isolated northwest part of Spain called Galicia, celebrate what has been labeled one of the most outrageous religious pilgrimages in the world – La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme or Near-Death Day.
This bizarre festival sees the celebration of anyone who has managed to cheat death in the last year and honours Saint Marta de Ribarteme, the patron saint of resurrection. The highlight of these celebrations see the death-cheating individuals jump into a coffin, paraded around town and carried to the church Santa Marta De Ribarteme by their nearest and dearest. With near death experiences seemingly so rife in the small town of Las Nieves, one might recommend that the locals introduce the regular consumption of coriander to their diets, believed by the Chinese to be a seed that grants immortality.
In honour of the Near Death Day, Hendrick's Gin, has created a cocktail and film which celebrates a pioneering endeavour undertaken by two brave British mountaineers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who embarked on an intrepid venture to be the first to reach the top summit of Mount Everest in 1924. Mallory and Irvine disappeared on their journey somewhere high on the mountain and no one to this day knows whether or not they reached the summit. Some death defying coriander, may have been just what mountaineers, Mallory and Irvine, could have done with, although the interest and questions surrounding their expedition and disappearance will live on for all eternity.