26 Jun 2010


There are moments in life when you've got to stop and smell the roses... or just sit back and admire the fireworks! As I write this I'm watching a 20'+ fireworks display out over the bay of Alicante, with the castle in the background. It's gorgeous! It's the first night of a 5-night competition that starts the day after Hogueras... so still plenty to enjoy! One of these nights (probably Monday) I'll go downtown and watch it from the beach where they're launched. Lie down on a towel and see colours above me, enjoy the sounds an smells... Can't wait! :o)

Speaking of Hogueras, I hope you're not tired of the subject since I've got plenty more to write! But I'll space the posts out a bit more, in part 'cause I need the time to select and edit photos and I need to put together and edit the videos from the Cremà last night. -Wow! Gorgeous series of white "palmeras" right now! breathtaking!- I've also got friends arriving Monday for the week so I'll prepare a few posts this weekend in advance 'cause I doubt I'll have much time for the computer next week. I plan to be too busy with beach and fiesta and football celebrations! (yes football, Spain just made it through to the next round!!! 2-1 against Chile! CAMPEONES! CAMPEONES! OHE! OHE! OHEEEEEE!!!!)

Oh sweet! They've got these new spaghetti-type fireworks that I saw last year for the first time that actually somehow manage to go up and down several times before they dissipate! :o)

I'm going to stop there... words can't describe what I'm seeing!  The other contestants will have to work hard to beat this one! Spectacular grand finale! ;o)

24 Jun 2010

Off to the Fires!

It's TIME!!! La Nit de la Cremà has arrived! 

At midnight on the dot a giant palmera (fireworks in shape of a palm tree) will be launched from the castle. 
palm tree fireworks from the 2009 competition

The newspaper says they're aiming for a record breaking palmera, both in duration and size (11.5m diameter, 700m in height). As it dissipates the Bellea del Foc will give the order to burn the Official Hoguera in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and a few minutes after the Hogueras de Categoría Especial will be ignited as well. 

They go for simultaneous burns of all the big monuments so as to better distribute the crowds. All of it will be watched over by firemen, who will go from one Hoguera to the next until all have been reduced to ashes sometime between 3 and 4 a.m.

Now I'm going to go put my bikini on under a t-shirt and some shorts. Make myself a sandwich and head out downtown to watch it all BURN!!! Don't know which one yet... I want to take my camera and cell phone down (for pics and vid) so I'm going to want to avoid getting too wet during the banyà... the solution: plastic bags. 

If you want to join in or have an idea of what I'll be doing, I highly suggest you check out the post (with video) I wrote last year about the Cremà and the Banyà! I was out with my sister and some British friends of hers visiting and we really lucked out by getting close (in the reserved area!) to one of the big ones. Since I'm on my own this year I won't go for something that intense... might end up at the one in the harbour like I did 2 years ago. That one usually has fireworks coming out of it as it burns as you can see from this little video I put together for my friends back then:

Have a good evening! I sure intend to, even though I don't plan on getting this wet:

Hogueras and the People: Life on the Streets. SJ-0!

Happy San Juan day everyone!!! Tonight's the night! Tonight it all goes up in flames!!! :o)

I know, I know... I haven't showed you practically any of the monuments yet! Sorry 'bout that... but I've discovered that if you spend hours out and about photographing them... it doesn't leave you with any time (or energy) to actually go through the pics, select some, edit them and then write a post! :s  So I'm going to do what I did last year, and prolong Hogueras on the blog by showing you the monuments over the course of the next week or so, by categories. I've got 30 Hogueras to go through so to do them justice (and to avoid an overdose) you definitely don't want them all in one sitting!

Plus there are still other aspects of Hogueras to discuss, like its people!!! The heart and will behind it all. That which breathes life into this party (and which drives some people out of town to avoid all the noise involved, lol!). I'm going to do this in two times, to show you a bit of action on the streets, and then the clothes. Since the street action involves music, that means video!!! Just a few short clips, straight from my cell phone 'cause I'm afraid after last night's fiesta I don't have the energy to do any editing!

So like I said, music. The Hogueras just wouldn't be the same without these guys:

Every Hoguera has a marching band. They're there to accompany the members of the Hoguera in the various parades/processions they participate in (an element I haven't been able to write about this year), or to provide music for the jaunts around the Hoguera's associated neighbourhood. Here's a group (from the Hoguera Seneca-Autobuses) with their Bellea Infantil just returning to their Hoguera:

I'm afraid I only caught the tail end of that... I thought they were going to continue but they disbanded which is when I took the photo above of the musicians "relaxing").

This group (from Hoguera Altozano Sur) I caught yesterday just as they were about to head out:

And towards the end of the day (on my way back to the car in fact) I ran into the most lively group yet, (from Hoguera Foguerer Carolinas):

Now these guys have definitely got rythm! ;o)

Even the participants in the small Hoguera in my sleepy neighbourhood have been seen wandering the streets around here! Yesterday morning they were out and about in a relaxed get-up:

while just a couple of hours ago I caught sight of them (in more formal/official outfits) through the back window within my compound! I was hoping their trajectory would bring them 'round the front end but I guess not this year. :o(

You'll have noticed from those videos/pics a couple of different dress options for the members of these Hogueras. More formal/official:

Belleas and other members of the Hoguera Seneca-Autobuses

and more relaxed:

Members of the Hoguera Florida Portazgo

The second is kind of the "party uniform". You know, the one you're not worried about getting dirty. Basically everyone's wearing the same t-shirts. I'll give you a closer look at the nicer clothes in another post since this year for the first time I lucked out and was able to catch a bunch of people on film!

Hogueras by night, SJ-1

The 23rd is the best night to go out partying since the 24th is a holiday and there are no worries about "getting up" the next morning... ;o) 

I unfortunately killed my camera battery by spending another 4h out and about in the afternoon photographing the Hogueras that are in the "outer radius" (in other words can't get from one big one to the other on foot, went around in the car, losing myself in neighbourhoods I'd never been in and going through the nightmare of finding a parking space -several slightly less than legal, oops!- at each Hoguera). So no camera for my night out on the town... but thank you technology gods for decent cameras on cell phones!

So home at 5 a.m.... and since had no time between returning from visiting Hogueras to going out de fiesta, no time to edit and show you more Hogueras photos, so just a couple of nighttime shots from my cellphone:

Hoguera Calvo Sotelo

And here's one of the "barracas" associated with this Hoguera where I had dinner and danced well into the night (4h30 a.m.) with friends who booked a table there for the whole week:

Result: great spirits, but dead feet and back after hours of visiting Hogueras and then hours of dancing! :o)

22 Jun 2010

Hoguera Oficial, SJ-2

I spent 4 solid hours walking around this afternoon visiting all (I think) the Hogueras in the core downtown area, and I'm pooped! I still haven't decided how I'm going to organise the "viewing" and I'm too tired to sort through and edit over 200 photos tonight, so for today I'm just going to show you the "official" Hoguera, which is to say the one in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It doesn't enter into any of the competitions, and it's the one that starts off the Noche de San Juan by being burnt precisely at midnight (all the others start a bit later) upon the order of the Bellea del Foc.

Hoguera Oficial, "back" view

The theme of this year's Hoguera by artist Pedro Espadero (at a cost of 102'000€) is "Amor de Verano" or "Summer Love". Apparently it's 80% wood, and the base covers 18 metres while the whole monument weighs more than 7'000kg!

Hoguera Oficial, "frontal" view

Let's move in for a closer look, shall we?

I've noticed these past 3 years that a marine scene seems almost obligatory in an Hoguera in Alicante! Perhaps to remind people how much we owe the sea? Particularly in this province of fishermen and beach tourism...

This one's fun! It's what I'll be doing Thursday night while everything gets burnt: insulting firemen while hoping to be hosed down (and so cooled off)!

La Banyà!

The accompanying text states:
"El agua de la banyà
tiene algo de misterio,
cambia insultos por piropos
al cuerpo de los bomberos."
Which roughly translates as:
"The water of the banyà
is a bit mysterious,
it changes insults into flattery
for the corps of firemen."
The Banyà is a wonderful tradition of the Hogueras. It takes place while the monuments burn... we (the crowd) insult the firemen and in exchange they get us all soaking wet! It definitely helps to fight the heat from the flames. ;o)

Here are several loving couples...

And here's a scene some people love, while others don't: the mascletà!

La Mascletà!

I think this is my favourite shot so far this year...

We mustn't forget the kiddies!

Hoguera Oficial Infantil

I'm not sure what the Indian Chief is doing there... the other figures all seem to represent elements of European history or literature... The woman on the bull is Europa, from Greek mythology.

Hoguera Oficial Infantil

Here's the ninot they had in the official exhibit, Napoleon on his way to St Helena:

And I loved seeing this pair:

although I must say I much prefer the Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law versions! ;o)

21 Jun 2010

Hogueras Playeros, SJ-3

It's time to start visiting the completed Hogueras! :o)

I didn't have time to make it into town today, so I just visited the Hogueras around here (the beach area), and I discovered that one of them is missing! There were 3 last year... and although 3 are in the programme, one of them (Alicante Golf) is nowhere to be found! I checked around the neighbourhood it was set up in last year, even asked a business owner, and he told me he thinks it was "cancelled" this year for financial reasons. Apparently they already had trouble last year getting the money together and this year, well even worse. Damn crisis! :s

But onto more joyful matters! Here goes the first of the other two (they're both 4th category Hogueras) -that I actually showed you being set up yesterday- : Hoguera La Condomina (where I saw the mascletà nocturna last week) whose theme is "El Genio Alicantino" (the Alicante genious? I think they mean the things that attract tourists to Alicante... based on the figures!)

Hoguera La Condomina. Artista: Miguel Balaguer Nieto

Here's Alicante's mayor, armed and dangerous! If you remember she was their candidate for the Ninot Indultat...

Tourists!!! The German dude from yesterday joins a British retiree (they've got colonies here!) and a Japanese:

And this couple seem to have taken quite a fright!

Possibly because of this guy and his pyrotechnics competition! :p

A family fighting for an inch of sand along Alicante's famous beaches...

And this one... no idea!!! A bull at the beach???

Here's what the whole group looks like from the back:

and here's their Hoguera Infantil:

The one that's a few blocks from my place is the Hoguera Avda Costablanca-Entreplayas, and they're celebrating their 20th Anniversary with the theme "De Nit i de Dia" (Night and Day):

This sun and moon couple was their candidate for the Ninot Indultat:

And they've chosen to bring up other holidays (similar to Hogueras) in the region, the Fallas in Valencia...

and the Fiestas de la Magdalena in Castellon (never been)

I like the way you get to see the difference between the traditional dresses (and hair styles) in the three!

And looks like they were prepared for the Hercules football club making it up to the First Division this year:

Here's the ensemble from the back:

With the Hoguera Infantil which I learnt is a 1st category hoguera! I didn't know they could mix and match categories...

And I just learnt they won the 4th prize in their category for it! Bravo! :o)

Tomorrow I'll go wander around downtown and see what I run into... ;o)

20 Jun 2010

La Planta, SJ-4

So, the party has definitely started! Yesterday the number of times I heard firecrackers being set off inthe neighbourhood increased exponentially... there are at least 3-4 of these little kiosks within walking distance:

and the kids are literally having a blast!

Not so the dog who is spending most of her days here:

she really doesn't like the Hogueras!

And today at 2 P.M. while I was trying to swim a few laps in the pool (and discovering that after a year an Olympic size pool feels huge!) I was startled by a prolonged series of explosions that didn't sound that far away... but from the amount of time they lasted I'm sure it was the big mascletà set off at the Plaza de los Luceros which will be every day this week at 2... another very noisy pyrotechnic competition! I'll try to get down one day and record some of it so you can share in the noise with me! ;o)

But all that's been slowly escalating for the past week. What has been new this weekend is the Plantà! As in the setting up of the Hogueras, the monuments themselves!

There's one just up the street from me, Hoguera Avda Costablanca Entreplayas (4th category), and they were hard at work yesterday (I arrived just as a crane was leaving):

Bits and pieces of it were scattered around waiting to be unwrapped and put into place...

A bit further away, the Hoguera Condomina (also 4th category) was being set up today, with finishing touches being added on...

while members of the Hoguera watched:

and more ninots waited to be put into position.

Pretty much the same thing was taking place with the bigger Hogueras downtown, just on a larger scale! Here's the Hoguera Hernán Cortés (categoría especial), with in front of it the tables for members of the Hoguera who will be getting together for meals most nights this week (and then get a front seat on the burning):

Want a closer look into the belly of the beast?

If you click this bigger you can see the holes where more elements need to be inserted:

The Hoguera Calvo Sotelo (1st category) wasn't as far along when I went by...

Basically most of the elements were there, kind of like a 3D jigsaw puzzle that still needs to be assembled...

The only one who got a headstart was the Hoguera Official in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento:

They got to set up on Friday, and I missed out! Fortunately other people (better informed than me about the proceedings) did make it downtown and recorded most of the process here. Check it out it's pretty impressive!

Over the next couple of days I'll head downtown and admire the finished Hogueras and give you guys a look. Haven't decided yet if I'm going to organise it by categories like last year, or just as I happen to come across them while walking around.