The Hogueras de San Juan
Trip Start Apr 27, 2006
173Trip End Apr 01, 2008
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I spent seven nights here. That was too many, but that was only because my schedule made me get here a couple of days too early and just sitting on a beach does very little for me
Meanwhile, there are fireworks displays/contests every day at 2:00 p.m. Daylight fireworks sound odd, no? Apparently the point is the noise, and the fireworks crew are graded on their ability to recreate both drum solos from In A Gadda Da Vida while smoking the crowd out. There are also night fireworks off the fortress, and down on the beach
There are also parades, often two a day, with locals in traditional dress, bands, precocious children, dancers, and all the normal parade crap, except for two somewhat unique things. First, at the end of the parade, everyone presents flowers to dudes who put them up on a color-coded (white flowers here, red here, etc.) lattice leaned against a stately building in front of City Hall (where the official Hogueras is). Eventually, it creates a picture, kind of a paint-a-non-mobile-float-by-numbers. This, of course, is later burned. Second, the parades are separated into groups - I think by barrio and outlying towns, but Iīm not sure. However, they competed for crowd favor by giving away food, wine, and booze (poured straight out of the bottle into willing mouths) to people lining the street. And this meets my rule of a parade I will watch - its the You Gotta Give Me Some Reason To Watch You Dressed Up In a Stupid Outfit Rule. Until now, only Mardi Gras parades had satisfied my rule.
Meanwhile, someone is grading the Foguerases. I donīt know how, but they were broken into classifications somehow. I was too busy watching football (one day with a bunch of Swedes, another with English, the next with Germans, depending upon who was playing) at outdoor cafes, eating tapas, and drinking with old people and children
As an aside, it is so good to be near an ocean again and have fresh seafood in my diet. The downside is it is hot - 87-90 degrees. But that is the cost of doing festness. Also notable, being back in Spain from Germany and Eastern Europe, is the openness of people rolling hash into their cigarettes. I havenīt really seen that (outside of Amsterdam) since I was in Ireland in 1991. San Francisco should learn. The quasi-legalized marijuana is too strong for all but the most regular smokers can function socially on it. The shit is a severely crippling form of social polio. Arnold and Gavin should get a clue and legalize hash - a middle ground where the drinkers and stoners can meet (and sing in perfect harmony).
There arenīt any real particular individual stories to tell. The nights were all pretty similar, except for Saturday - the day of the burn. I would wander into town (my hotel was a little outside), do some things, and watch football with whichever fans on nice day after nice day at an outside cafe
As I said, however, Saturday was different. They start burning the Foguerases at midnight according to a strict schedule set by the fire department, who are present at each one to douse flames that get too big and to hose down surrounding buildings and trees. Then, as the flames subside, the watchers taunt the firefighters and chant "Agua, Agua," until the hoses are turned on the crowd and a big wet T-shirt party erupts all over town. It was a good climax to the week. I got "home" around 5:00 a.m. that night, but I saw people still coming into town as late as 3:00 a.m., and I suspect the party went past dawn. Unsurprisingly, Sunday was shot, and I took off early Monday morning for:
Barcelona, Spain (unplanned, but it turned out that the festival I was going to go to in Zaragoza was also for last weekend - Doh!)