24 Jun 2011

Hoguera Oficial en la Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Well, turns out I didn't have time to make it out to visit any more Hogueras today! Boxes, boxes and more boxes! Good thing I still have the "Official" Hoguera in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (in front of City Hall) to share with you guys! ;o)

We approached the Plaza from the harbour side yesterday, and my mouth dropped open as I saw this filling the view through one of the archways:

This year's Hoguera Oficial is amazing!

23 Jun 2011

Wandering around town visiting Hogueras

I stuck around and had lunch downtown after the Mascletà today, figured it would be the perfect excuse (since I was already out of the house and joyfully ignoring the piles of boxes waiting to be unpacked) to wander around and visit a few of the Hogueras. My dad decided to keep me company and we meandered around for a while (and ducked into the delightful respite of a movie theatre's AC for a couple of hours, lol!), admiring some monuments, dissing others, enjoying the wit displayed in some of the captions... Care to join me as I go through some images of this tour? ;o)

First up, an Hoguera from the "special" category (i.e. big spenders) that I had walked by on Monday while they were finishing it up: H. Seneca-Autobuses.

It had a very fishy motif to it, so you know I liked it! Check out the mermaid attracting the sailor:

And this other mermaid (or is she a siren?) whose voice enchants the tourists who come to our shores:

Mascleta 2011 take 2!

So I actually made it down again today for another Mascletà! Two in one year... wow! :p

I was early enough so that I managed to find a decent viewing spot right up against the fences... Right in front of the local press who were getting ready to launch their interviews:

Check out the cameraman's get-up:

all protected like a fireman! He got up in the thick of things during the explosions...

22 Jun 2011

Hogueras in my neck of the woods

I live in a area of Alicante called Cabo Huertas, the cape between the two main beaches. It used to be nothing but fields and orchards with the odd building here and there (looking over the Alicante Bay) until about 10 - 15 years ago when the big real estate boom started and buildings just mushroomed over night. Since it's mostly recent construction in an area where space wasn't a problem, we have a very different look from the main part of the city. More relaxed, more space, a bit more beachy (even though most places don't have a view of the Med).

Most of the hullabaloo of Hogueras takes places downtown. There are monuments built every couple of blocks. The parades walk down the main streets until they reach city hall or the Cathedral. Many streets are cut off to traffic so the "barracas" can be set up for the members of the different hogueras to get together and eat meals and party throughout the holidays. But even though we're a bit distant from all that, we still "feel" the fiesta atmosphere (in a large part thanks to the kids setting off firecrackers in the parks) since there are three hogueras set up in this area. Since they're younger there aren't as many people involved and so have lower budgets than the ones downtown which basically means they're smaller (I eplained budgets and categories 2 years ago here, and here are these same hogueras from last year).

Let's start off with a welcome return! The Hoguera Alicante Golf disappeared last year because of the economic crisis! I'm guessing the neighbourhood's money situation has improved since I came across their Hogueras this afternoon:

Not very impressive, small Fifth category Hoguera (the one in the foreground is the children's). But I did enjoy this one Ninot who represents all the people who've been having a really hard time this year since the anti-tobacco law went into full effect (no more smoking in any place that serves food or drink unless on a terrace):

20 Jun 2011

Mascleta y Planta!

Let's get this party started!!! ;o)

It's that time of the year again... when Alicante goes wild and the sound of firecrackers and the smell of gunpowder fill the air: HOGUERAS!!! Our major FIESTA!!!

How'd you like that mascletà (well, 4' of the 10' it lasted)? I hope you didn't skip out on the terratremol, the earth-shattering final minute! ;o)

7 Jun 2011

Oceanic Blog-A-Thon 2011

Welcome, welcome!

At the moment this post goes live, it is exactly midnight on the dateline if my calculations are correct, (if not... oh well!) and on some remote Pacific islands it is now June 8th... WORLD OCEANS DAY!

It's a day to think about the Oceans, remember all they have to offer us, consider how we can help them as they are under constant attack from human activities. Go dive into these great salty tales to find out what your fellow bloggers have to say about the oceans and the critters that inhabit them! Don't forget to leave them a comment so they'll know you've been there, and if you'd like to join in the fun the just whip something up on your own blog (instructions, ideas here) and send me the link: crazycrisb AT ymail DOT com. I'll be sure and include it here! And be sure to come back here and check in regularly since I'll be updating this Blog-A-Thon as I receive people's posts over the next couple of days! :D

Let the 3rd Oceanic Blog-A-Thon begin!!!

  • Wow! Blondie of Tales From Clark Street got a jump on all of us and was the first to post her World Oceans Day post yesterday! Brava!!! Her inspiring tale of her mother and a manatee reminds us that we don't need to live next to the ocean (she lives in the middle of a continent!) to care about the creatures that inhabit it. And she's got some absolutely brilliantly salty ideas for your next birthday present! ;o)
  • In Ode to Earth's Majority, the Single Mom brought out her inner poet to relive the magic of her first oceanic experience... including a little snorkelling incident I'm sure many of us have lived through as well! ;o)
  • Shellbelle has outdone herself over at the Tiki Hut this year! She shares with us the work of an amazing sculptor - Jason deCaires Taylor - who has created several underwater art exhibits that serve as possible new habitats (artificial reefs) for the local marine plants and animals. Coral reefs are crucial ecosystems that deteriorating rapidly across the globe as a result of human actions. This is one artist who has decided to give something back! So go check the World Oceans Day Beach Party and discover this "living" art (kind of reminds me of the denizens inhabiting Davy Jones' ship in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies!) and learn more about the crucial role of coral reefs in our oceans! I for one would love to go diving among those statues! ;o)
  • Want to hear about a really smart dolphin who actually trained her trainers? Kelly the dolphin figured out how to trick them into giving her extra fish! Nancy from Life in the Second Half shares this with us in Dolphins / The Non-Human Humans and makes a plea for protecting these incredibly intelligent marine mammals!
  • Want to find a decent book  that will help you appreciate and understand our oceans even more than you already do? Just don't know where to find a good one? Well the Grand High Poobah from NeoLibrarium has snagged a couple of books from her local library and reviewed them in detail for you guys! In World Oceans Day Book Review & Pictures she's got a couple of great reading suggestions from National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution that show us how linked we are with our oceans. She's even invited us to share some of her wonderfully salty honeymoon memories with us... would anyone like to swim with stingrays? I sure would!!! ;o)
  • Juliette from Pop Classics invites us to go back "under the sea" and re-discover the magic of The Little Mermaid! She digs into the classical origins of some of the characters (did you know that King Triton was based on the sons of the Greek God of the seas, Poseidon?) and realises how much this film teaches children about the power of the sea!
  • Have you ever stumbled  upon a turtle's nest on the beach? Lavender Dreamer from Lavender Dreams has! In World Oceans Day Sea Turtles she shares this wonderful discovery with us, as well as many more turtle encounters, including one poor fella doing a stint in a rehab clinic! ;o)
  • For World Oceans Day 2011 River Song from Desert Spirit's Fire remembers the many seas she's gazed upon and shores she's walked (wow). She wants to remind us that there is an ocean of tomorrows waiting for us, but to get them we need to care for our waters, our planet or all we'll have are memories of yesterdays.

check back for regular updates with new participants!

I hope you've enjoyed reading these as much as we've enjoyed writing them! Have a good World Oceans Day, and remember to Wear Blue and Tell Two! 

Did you know that the only that separates the Southern Ocean (surrounding the Antarctic) from the other oceans connected to it (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian) is the powerful Antarctic Circumpolar Current?

Did you know that many fish (like the clown fish) can change sex during their lives? Nemo's dad should have turned into a female when his mom died! :p

For more crazy oceanic factoids, click here. Or go hang out at a World Oceans Day beach party over at Shellbelle's Tiki Hut!

What's squishy and crawls and swims?

Hi there! Since the theme of this year's World Oceans Day is Youth, I decided to join in the fun because kids and I have always gotten along! Indeed, they always seem to be really excited to meet me whenever they get the chance...

Let's see how long it takes you to guess who I am? ;o)
  • I'm an invertebrate - that means I don't have a skeleton!
  • Like most oceanic inhabitants (except for those pesky mammals) I breathe by filtering seawater through my gills. 
  • I can crawl and I can swim.
  • I live on the ocean floor, in dens under piles of rocks (that I either find or clear for myself), and I block the entrance with bits of shells and other rocks so it's hard for you to find me.
  • I take up a lot of space, and yet I can squeeze myself through impossibly small holes!
  • I have 3 hearts! They pump blue blood throughout my body. 
  • Someday I'll die for my offspring (if I'm a male then I'll die shortly after I mate, if I'm a female then for the couple of months it takes my eggs to hatch I won't leave them alone for a moment and will die soon after).
  • I have a big head with a pretty decent brain (I excel at memory tests and puzzle solving. Good luck keeping me locked up in a tank, I'm a regular Houdini!).
  • My eyesight's pretty good thanks to my two big eyes, and I have a great sense of touch and taste. But I'm deaf!
  • I have a beak which allows me to kill my prey (crabs, scallops, snails, fish, turtles...) by biting it.
  • You know what they say about the best defence being a good attack? HA! Not for me! In my world the best defence is invisibility! So I'm a pro when it comes to camouflage, thanks to thousands of pigmented cells called cromatophores in my skin I can change my colouring to match my environment.  Good luck spotting me! ;o)
  • If you do happen to spot me and come too close for comfort I'll disappear in the blink of an eye (yours not mine) and leave you blinded by a dark cloud...
  • My cousins have 10 legs (or arms, your call!) while I've only got 8, and when we grab hold of something we don't easily let go! But that's not all they're good for, my legs/arms help me with eating, moving, hunting, tasting and mating. Check out our fabulous suction cups:

Who am I?

So, how'd you do? Have you figured me out yet? C'mon! That last clue was EASY!!! Let me help: my number of legs is what gives me my name! The ancient Greeks called me ὀκτάπους (oktapous) which means "eight-footed". *hint* *hint*

I'm a mollusc.
         I'm a cephalopod.
                  I'm an..................


Want to see how I'm put together?

Can you spot my siphon sticking out in this picture?

I don't know how I'd survive without it! I lets me squirt water out and propel me along either slowly or quickly (depends on how fast I squeeze), and if I'm in trouble that's where my jet of defensive ink will come out of!

I particularly enjoy this video, showing off just how smart I am! ;o)

You've probably heard of my famous German cousin Paul, right? The media made quite a fuss about him last year... I really don't get what the big deal is about opening a box and eating a mussel... let me at it and I'm sure I could open it twice as fast as him! And any football fan worth his salt knew Spain was destined to win the World Cup!!! ;o) Ahhh... but the poor fellow has moved on and can no longer defend himself so I guess I'd better let him be. He did a lot for octopus rights and he will be sorely missed.

Well, it's time for me to sign off and let you get back to enjoying World Oceans Day! I'll be sea-ing you! ;o)

Do you want to know more about me and my family?
Read about octopus legends
Come meet the largest member of my family, the Giant Pacific Octopus!
and of course there's always Wikipedia.

This post is part of the 2011 Oceanic Blog-A-Thon  and the World Oceans Day Beach Party over at Shellbelle's Tiki Hut! Come join us in celebrating World Oceans Day!!! :o)

5 Jun 2011

Want to dive under the waves on World Oceans Day?

While browsing around YouTube the other day looking for fun videos to share in the days leading up to World Oceans Day, I noticed that many of the ones that were catching my attention were done by the same person: Annie Crawley a.k.a. "Ocean Annie". I poked around her YouTube channel, checked out the website www.DiveIntoYourImagination.com and realised she's already well on the path leading to the theme of this year's World Oceans Day: Youth!!! Her project is to bring the oceans to the kids (check out the "Cool Kids" section!):
"I wanted to give children the real story, have them exposed to the real animals and talk about the natural history of the animals because they are so “animated” in their natural environment that they don’t need any stories but their own. I created the Dive Into Your Imagination series for kids to get them out of the virtual world and into the real world, it is better than cartoons! I truly believe that kids will help educate their parents and many of the myths about our oceans and water will be dispelled. I want kids growing up loving the water and all the animals because we protect what we love."
 Among the videos I particularly enjoyed was this next one, where we kind of get to know Annie as she explains about Scuba Diving. It's a great intro to one of my favourite activities, and makes me want to just go and jump into the water! ;o)

Remember: tomorrow the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon begins (and will last as long as it is WOD somewhere on this planet)!!! So finish up the final touches on your post and then come give me the link in a comment or e-mail me at crazycris AT ymail DOT com. One participant has already got hers up! Who's going to be next? :o)

I'm signing off for now, but am going to let these two polar bears have the final word:

More facts for World Oceans Day!

Still looking for facts to share with the people around you on World Oceans Day? Well pay attention 'cause here go 10 facts about dolphins in 30 seconds!

Hmmm... that went by pretty fast! What say we slow things down a bit and take a deeper look into just one of those facts? I choose... ECHOLOCATION!!!

Now for the "youngsters", how about a catchy echolocation song?

Although personally, I might try and learn this one for a challenge:

Yikes! Maybe I'll go for something easier! :p

See you on June 8th, World Oceans Day!!!

4 Jun 2011

WOD: The Pacific Trash Vortex

Did you know there's a massive garbage heap - roughly the size of Texas - floating around in the Pacific Ocean? It's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex and I think the name is a pretty good indication of what it's made of... NOT PRETTY!!! So think twice about all the plastic you use, and remember next Wednesday is World Oceans Day!

And here's a fun version of this trashy story for the kids:

Bag the bags!

So, are you preparing your post(s) for the 3rd Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Blog-A-Thon this weekend? I am!!!I look forward to reading what everyone else is willing to share with us! See you here in a few days! :o)

3 Jun 2011

Need Facts for WOD?

On World Oceans Day we "Wear Blue and Tell Two"! That is to say we dress in blue clothes and share two oceanic facts with our friends, family, neighbours, random crazy people we meet on the street... :p

Here are 5 quick facts on sharks for you:

Want something more detailed? Check out my Fishy Friday post on Lesser Spotted Dogfish, a small shark from the North Sea that is one of the species subject to fisheries in the area.

And here's a plea to increase shark awareness and help save these majestic animals!

Sea you on World Ocean's Day! June 8th is just around the corner... :o)

2 Jun 2011

WOD: Youth, the Next Wave for Change

This year and next year the theme for World Oceans Day will be focused on young people since they "are the most promising members of the public to reach out to if you want to effect lasting change" according to studies by the Ocean Project.

With the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon we're going wider than that theme, we're writing and sharing memories, thoughts, stories etc. about the oceans and its inhabitants in general! But keeping the original theme in mind I'm going to be surfing around the internet looking for youth-oriented oceanic videos and sharing them with you here. Perhaps you'll enjoy sharing them with any youngsters in your vicinity and help them gain an appreciation for the oceans! ;o)

Young Albert here sure did:

1 Jun 2011

World Ocean's Day, 1 week away!

Just another quick reminder that June 8th is World Ocean's Day!!! Keep your eyes open for ocean-related activities in your region this weekend, or organise one yourself! In any case, be sure to join us for the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon next week!

Signing off with two more ocean-related videos, both about the largest fish on the planet: the Whale Shark! 

and I sure wish I was diving along with these guys...