Saturday, September 6, 2008

Close of the Festes - The Deafening Firecrackers

The remainder of the festival days 3 through 7 basically consisted of 2-3 times daily Bulls by the Sea (once was enough for us!), several parades with people dressed in traditional Spanish garb walking through town carrying flowers, candles and quite often followed by a religious icon and a band. After a while, the cast of characters became familiar and the parades all started to blend together. Every night would host some sort of theater or orchestra performance followed by disco at the port, usually starting around 1 am. Okay, that used to be halfway through our night, so needless to say, we did not quite make it to the disco. Besides, we were still in the process of building our babysitter network! We tried to get a babysitter for the last night Eric and Susan were in town, but “it was not possible” during festes week! One of the final events worth noting was the Mascletada, or firecracker show. Based on my limited translational skills, this was described in the event guide as “Ensordecedora Mascletada”. I looked up ensordecedora in my dictionary – deafening. Uh oh… given what we’ve seen so far with the Spanish, to actually include the word deafening in the guide made us a bit nervous, especially since we had no earplugs. We headed over to the street intersection and came upon a huge area fenced off around what looked like 5 long rows of colored candles hanging on clotheslines. The crowd was at least 25-50 yards behind the fence, so we decided to stay back even further by some shade trees. At first a few fireworks were shot into the air making very loud bangs, but they were manageable, albeit a bit hard to see, as it was the middle of the day. The kids enjoyed watching the colored smoke puffs in the sky as the explosions began to intensify. After a while the whole area filled with billowing smoke and I headed up towards the fence to take some pictures. At that point, they lit the “clothesline” for the finale. I can’t say for sure exactly what these firecrackers were, but they felt and sounded like M80s, if not stronger. All I know is that they started going off in multiples as they moved rapidly down the clothesline. I’m talking hundreds of these things – at one point it got so intense that I had to put the camera down because of the strength of the explosions. I could literally feel the shock waves and blasts of heat as they went off. I’ve never experienced anything even close to a military combat situation, but I wondered if it would be something like this. I just can’t imagine how frightening it would be to be on the other side of that fence. I returned to Suzanne and the kids in a bit of a dazed, giddy wonder. The kids ran up and asked, “Daddy, were you scared?” I told them; “You know what? It was really cool but really, really scary and I’m glad you stayed back by the tree”. I think they were as well. Well, the festival closed Monday at midnight with a traditional fireworks show. After a very busy week, we opted to put the kids down to bed by nine. None of us had any energy to head back out that evening, but we did manage to catch a glimpse on our rooftop deck. From what I could hear, the finale was pretty intense and quite longbut we were ready for bed and ready for the end of the festes. A nice quiet week ahead of us actually sounded appealing!

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