As it’s already the 23rd here in Spain, I officially leave in 5 days.
And as the days seem to pass faster and faster, I can’t quite come to the realization that the last three months have already come and gone. I won’t go into my misty-eyed, staring-off-in-the-distance recounting of how quickly time passes (not yet, atleast), but it does seem that this final week is really just flying by. As I’ve been a bit silent with my posting (sorry about that guys), I’m going to give you some quick updates about the happenings with me and in Alicante before I go into a short description of the gigantic festival that’s going on right now.
*I returned to Tabarca, the island of the demonic jellyfish, to find the water crystal clear, warm, and, amazingly, perfectly jellyfish-less. I did a little snorkeling, laid on the beach, and explored the island. It was a beautiful day, although I’m still dealing with the repercussions of thinking I have a “base tan” and therefore am exempt from wearing sunscreen. Silly Alicia.
*José Antonio and I spent 25 minutes looking for my house keys the other day. He found them. They were in my glasses case. Though I’m not surprised that they were in a strange location (I have the tendency to absentmindedly put the TV remote in the fridge, among other things), this whole debacle does beg the question: soooo, where are my glasses? Well, they were on the bookshelf, of course. Because normal people not only display their favorite reads, family photos, and nostalgic mementos on bookshelves, they also put their glasses there for all to see. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself to calm my soon-to-be-25-years-old-and-I’M-GETTING-OLD panic.
*Now the best, and possibly most miraculous news of all (which isn’t too new for the Facebookers out there), I SOMEHOW passed my Spanish class!!! Not quite sure how this happened, but it did. So, technically, my Spanish is Intermediate level, but don’t have any preconceived notions about my speaking abilities when I get home. I still sound like a robot and often take a full 2 minutes to piece together an incorrectly-pieced-together sentence.
Now that the excitement of the exam has passed, I can direct my attention to more important matters.
In no particular order, these are:
Enjoying the nightlife
Sampling EVERY chocolate pastry available
Spending as much time at the beach as possible
With only 5 days left, a girl has to prioritize. In truth, though, the biggest priority for me is to experience Las Hogueras de San Juan, which means, The Bonfires of Saint John. Hogueras (pronounced oh-GAIR-ahs), as it’s informally called, is Alicante’s biggest celebration. From what I’ve observed so far, it’s 4 days and nights of fireworks and drinking. Everyone buys fireworks and lights them from streets, windows, lawns, beaches, wherever. This includes children. More than once this week, I’ve been surprised by a rolling ball of smoke stumbling to my feet, and moving just in time before the bang.
Unfortunately, the irresponsibility with explosives does not only lie with the children. On a few occasions now, I’ve seen adults being carried off on stretchers because of an amateur attempt at pyrotechnics gone bad. Also, there are these big things, called hogueras, which will eventually get burned to smithereens on Friday night with hundreds of people dancing around the flames.
Does anyone else see that this stuff is DANGEROUS?!?!
Precarious firework displays and 5-story bonfires aside, here’s how Hogueras works: The city is divided up into 86 districts, each district then commissions an artist to create an hoguera based on a theme so 86 hogueras are built throughout the city. Now, on top of that, each district also has a barraca, which is a private, fenced-in area in the middle of their district where the members of that district can go to socialize with each other, eat, drink, and dance the nights away. So, throughout the streets of Alicante, you have 86 GIGANTIC statues and huge sections of streets closed off for parties. This isn’t to mention the nightclubs, bars, restaurants, food stands, and temporary shops also set up IN THE STREET. On top of this, each district also has beautiful lit arches that frame the streets of their district and identify them from the others. I have never seen an entire city get so involved in a festival before. It’s exciting, invigorating, and makes me want to dance the night away with locals and foreigners alike.
|An example of the lit arches in one district|
|At the barraca of my friend Nerea's district|
|And another two blocks away|
|An outdoor nightclub|
|And another right in the middle of the street|
As you may imagine, with all of the roadblocks there is also a lot of strange traffic, changes in bus and tram schedules, and all sorts of general transportation squabbles. So, as you’ve probably rightfully deduced, just as I’m starting to get a hang of the bus schedules here in Alicante, they go and switch them all on me. I just can’t win.
So now that you have a little background info, I’m headed back to Alicante to enjoy the next two days which are traditionally, “the craziest.” I’ll write a post with my conclusions on the festival this weekend, but if you haven’t heard from me by Sunday, just pray I haven’t been the victim of a drive-by fireworking.
Thanks for reading,