9 Jul 2009

Hogueras: Crema 2009 - Let it burrrrrrrn!

It's the night of June 24th to 25th... THE night of the Hogueras! The one we've all been waiting for! When a year's planning, preparing, designing, building and admiring all just go up in flames and smoke! Tears are versed, explosions are heard all across town... and people's favourite Hoguera activity gets unleashed: insulting firemen!

What's that you say? Insulting firemen?!?! But the poor fellahs have it hard enough controlling those flames, staying up all night, not being able to party themselves! And the crowds milling around are inventing insult after insult and throwing it at them?! People will do anything to cool down in this heat... and the firemen are glad to respond, they are after all armed with those powerful hoses! ;o) so... AAAGUAAA!!!

Hehehe! Crazyest night of the year I'd say!

Here's a peek at how things start out. To guarantee a successful Cremà the "artificieros" (fireworks etc. experts) spent the afternoon and early evening wiring the Hogueras, filling them with firecrackers, fireworks, connecting different parts of the monument with fuses, dowsing it all (at the last minute) with gasoline... When that fuse is lit, everything must happen quickly! And if done properly NOTHING should be left intact.

This video is of the Hoguera Explanada:

How 'bout a closer view of the wiring of the Hoguera Pza Ruperto Chapí (next to the Teatro Principal)?

So my sister and I decided to take her friends (visiting from London) to see one of the biggies (more impressive), the Hoguera Hernán Cortés (the chess game!).

Somehow (por la cara dura de my hermanita!) we got damn lucky and ended up in one of the areas "reserved" for the members of the Hoguera... front row seats people! You can't get any closer than this!!! :o) Well, physically you could... but the firemen pushed us back saying we'd literally roast otherwise! lol!

Sharp at midnight, the witching hour, a single "palmera" (firework in shape of a palm tree) is launched from the Castle, signalling the beginning of the Cremà. First off will be the Hoguera Official at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

Shortly thereafter, all over town, the rest of the Hogueras start their show. The firemen start by hosing down the monument, neighbouring buildings, etc. to help keep things under control later. 10 Hogueras were burnt simultaneously in the centre of town, and once they'd finished with those the firemen moved on out to other Hogueras to get those done (can't be burnt without presence of firemen). The Grand Prize Winner - La Florida Portazgo - was cremated at 01h30. It was all over by 4am and the next day there were very few traces of the evening's events (other than scorched ground and dangling decorative lights.

The Cremà always starts with the Hoguera Infantil. The Belleza Infantil lights the fuse and watches (teary-eyed) her monument go up in smoke.

When it's done, all eyes are glued to the Bellea del Foc waiting for her to light the fuse that will bring chaos to order in a blazing furnace before us all...

Brings to mind that old childhood ditty...
"ashes, ashes, it all falls down!"

I've never been that close to a Cremà before, and let me say it was INTENSE! And the HEAT! Aïe, aïe, aïe!!!

As you could hear (sorry for poor quality of sound), it didn't take long for the cries of "aaaaaaaguaaaaaa! aaaaaaaguaaaaaaa!" to be heard over the roar of the flames, and for the taunts and insults to try to catch the firemen's attention in the hopes of some desperate relief from the furnace... Being soaking wet never felt so good! ;o)

We wandered around a bit more to see if we could witness another burning, but the big ones take longer than the smaller ones so all the neighbouring Hogueras were pretty much done when we walked by... just meant we got to witness the beginning of the clean-up crew! :p

Here's all that's left of the Hoguera Mercado Central:

It still amazes me when I stop to think about it... all that imagination, money, hard work... on display for a few days and then burnt to ashes in a matter of hours! But for the people involved it's all worth it, and believe me they're already planning for next year! :o)


  1. At least we have pictures and video to remember it by... I loved the chess set! It seems so strange to put so much work into it just to burn it down, but then look at our parade floats. Then just leave and go where?

  2. You look like you're having a lot of fun there! I love the "burning" photos!

  3. Amazing! I can't believe they just let it all burn - awesome. Looks like you were having a blast.

  4. Ahhhhhh…at last, the burning! You did a fantastic job editing your videos and when Johnny Cash came on, I died laughing!

    So, you still have not told us which ninot was spared, but I know who was not! What an event you have taken us to visit. Cris, it was the next best thing to being there and we didn't even get wet!

    Loved it, loved it, loved it!

    BTW, when you make it to Florida just get in touch with me, I'll take you on one of my walks.

    Lily, floats in the Rose Parade are put on display at the stadium for a couple of days. They are then dismantled and any steel structure that can be repurposed is, the rest in recycled along with all the organic materials used. Nothing as festive as the Hogueras, but at least very little, if anything, ends up in a landfill.

  5. Fun would be an understatement! ;o)

    A note on the structures and landfills (since you mentioned floats). If an hoguera is built properly, well designed and with the right materials, then absolutely nothing recognisable should be left other than a pile of ashes! (that last photo shows one that missed what with that head still there). All the materials used must be chosen carefully. Metal is forbidden... So almost nothing for landfills!

  6. Dive Girl, it is odd that everything (except for a single ninot) is allowed to burn... but then it was built for that purpose... we're a long way from the original fires of San Juan when people would burn old broken furniture and other things... the idea is to burn away the bad and be left with the good. And with some of these figures that are satirical or political commentary, the idea is similar... purify through flames! (this of course from the country that invented the Inquisition...) :p

  7. Rhonda, I hesitated long and hard before mixing in Johnny Cash (in the voice of Joaquin Phoenix)... but once the thought popped into my head I couldn't get "Ring of Fire" out of it! And I was worried that a 5' video might feel a bit long (and believe me it took me a looooooong time to whittle it down to only 5') so I thought the music would a) complement it well, and b) make it not seem long... hope it worked!

    And thx for the invite! Perhaps some day I may be able to take you up on it and see for myself the mangroves around Tampa! Should probably try and do that before my "little kid" of a cousin gets all grown up on me! As it is he's going into Jr High and I don't recognise him anymore in the photos! How fast they/we grow! :p


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