‘No, No, Louder!’ Guajar Alto Fiesta 2015

The flames feel their way up the whitewashed building. Reaching for the roof and the black Andalusian sky above, they cast a glare reflected on the neighbouring cluster of houses. Above, but not much above, showers of sparks follow loud explosions and rain down indiscriminatingly over dwellings as well as the dry orchards and patches of sun-scorched earth that mark the village boundary. The marching band never misses a beat and plays on. The noise, bang after bang is deafening, the colours, ever more impressive and in ever greater radiuses, pierce the sky.

Hmm... Did we Make Enough?

Hmm… Did we Make Enough?

Suddenly, as if awakened from the collective trance that descends over groups watching fireworks displays, the local village policeman F breaks from the crowd and rushes down the street in the direction of the bright red glare, which everyone now realises is not part of the show.

He is soon followed by three or four of the more macho villagers. They disappear from view, but must cover the four hundred or so yards quickly, for within no more than a few minutes, the flames diminish and are replaced first by smoke, before the black night sky once again claims its former domain. Above, the explosions continue. The music also.

If there was one early moment when it became clear I was in for 72 hours out of the ordinary it was this. No sooner had our makeshift fire brigade dealt with one blaze, when another sparks up maybe a hundred yards to the left. As this is tackled with equal efficiency there is no interruption in neither fireworks nor music, nor a single sign of concern from any locals about the potential safety of their generations old abodes. The annual village Fiesta of Guajar Alto, for which the fireworks signal the beginning, is up and running and for an incredibly literal three day stint nothing is going to interrupt or get in the way, not even a few houses slightly on fire.

An Englishman In...

An Englishman In…

Disculpe’ – a woman’s voice carries up my three steps to the kitchen. A few hours previous to the the evening’s fireworks, I am hanging from the top shelf, engaged in a belated spring clean – dusting shelves in anticipation of the imminent arrival for a few days of my good friend L. ‘Disculpe’, I realise this must be more than the first time she has cried out, as my music – the only accompaniment I have ever found to make cleaning bearable – is on rather loud. I climb down from my makeshift ladder and, uttering as many apologies in Spanish as I can come up with (I fear I have committed the faux pas of thoughtlessly ruining the sacred siesta), rush to turn down my speakers. ‘No, no’ she says as I fumble with the controls, ‘mas’ – more! ‘Que? You want louder?’ ‘Si, mas, louder…’ she says, smiles and trips off back down the street without a further word.

This encounter has two important consequences; the first, me falling in love even further with my village; the only place I have ever experienced people coming and asking you to turn your music up – definitely my kind of place. And the altogether very pleasant revelation that, during the summer at least, I have a very cute neighbour.

'A Lovestruck Romeo...'

‘A Lovestruck Romeo…’

Another neighbour who is always very kind to me, comes round to inform me of how things will work for the ensuing three days. ‘Now there is a programme’, says M. ‘However, the best thing to do is just listen out for the rockets; they’ll tell you when something is about to start’. ‘Rockets?’ Really? I can’t help but wonder to what extent this might be a teeny tiny stretching of the truth. During the course of the Fiesta I will have many an – often very early morning – occasion to confirm that it is no such thing. In fact come Sunday morning when the deafening 8.30 am rocket announces the end of the ninety minutes sleep since the dancing ceased and the beginning of the Diana Floreada – the latest of a series of processions to tour the village, I am just about over rockets, fireworks and all things that unexpectedly ‘go bang’ in the night, day and morning.

Thanks to M I am at this point also the proud owner of one paid for Guajar Alto Fiesta 2015 t-shirt. Fireworks, bars, marching bands, live music don’t come for free. Since ‘time immemorial’ – so goes the locally produced Los Guajares guidebook – diverse fiestas have taken places in these villages. These fiestas have no doubt helped shaped the strong sense of community between neighbours which I have felt so keenly since moving here last November. Our party, that of Guajar Alto, is theoretically at least, in honour of La Virgen de La Aurora and held every year on the 14,15 and 16th of August.

Temporary Bar... Possibly The Largest Measures I Have Ever Been Served...

Temporary Bar… Possibly The Largest Measures I Have Ever Been Served…

Though today there is still a religious aspect and no doubt people exist for whom this is still the point, it seems more a chance for the village; residents of today as well as many folk who have migrated away (particularly to Barcelona and France) in search of work, to return, be reunited and enjoy themselves in a manner I have not experience hitherto on my travels. On the first day I notice a group of women – not ‘all year rounders’ – who have had pink t-shirts made; ‘Life is Three Days – Guajar Alto 14,15,16 August’ it says on they back. Before I am any the wiser this strikes me as a little sad (in the true sense of the word) – by the end, I entirely see what they mean.

Donning the aforementioned t-shirt – which one obtains when one pays the ‘voluntary’ contribution to the annual festivities; a grand total of one euro per week of the year, I attend event after event throughout the weekend. Had I any doubt about my reception as a foreigner in the village or perhaps at such a local gathering, they are dispersed time and again.

Living For a Party...

Living For a Party…

I buy and am bought drinks, I am invited to stay in Barcelona, taken to picnics by the river and constantly asked whether I like it here. It is touching how much it seems to matter to everyone that I do so. In these times and with an English background I try to dispel thoughts of whether a single Spaniard, Pole, heaven forbid, Romanian would be treated anything like as warmly at the local village fete back home. I have my doubts.

As Sunday night blends into Monday morning with the band incredibly beginning their 8th hour of non-stop live music (that is after Friday and Saturday night in the same vein) it is time to literally put Fiesta 2015 to bed. Over the past three days, what started with a ‘turn the music up please’ (I had inadvertently downloaded the soundtrack to summers past for my neighbours – the fantastic Dire Straits’ Alchemy) carried on through into long nights of dancing to unknown Spanish pop(?), making several new friends for well, each future summer if nothing else, learning the strangest dance – something about ‘Chocolate’ which involves an intoxicated reenactment of as many animals as one can think of, drinking gallons of Ron Pallido and having the strength of my eardrums tested on the hour by yet another rocket.

It's Oh So Quiet...

It’s Oh So Quiet…

Monday morning a calm like no other I have experienced descends over the village. It is the sound of 500 people sleeping. By Tuesday most will be gone; back to Barcelona or France, only for it all to kick off again next August. I, for one, have already told my agencies I am not available for those dates for as someone wiser than I once wrote;

‘Life is Three Days… Guajar Alto 14,15,16 August 2016’.

~ by 2ndcupoftea on August 23, 2015.

10 Responses to “‘No, No, Louder!’ Guajar Alto Fiesta 2015”

  1. I think I need to experience this!!!

    • 😉 It certainly is fun… come see for yourself – 2016! Thanks for reading… Besitos

  2. I’m in!

    • Ha ha – yes I can imagine you loving it actually. Hope you are well. Many hugs – to Dale too if you see him. Thanks for reading 😉

  3. Ah the Spanish know how to fiesta!!!!

    • Ah yes you are not wrong there 😉 Must be looking forward to seeing the place again… Besitos and thanks for reading as always Michelle…

  4. A little lump in my throat. Sounds like you are still happy with your purchase!

    • I understand what you mean 😉 Yes happier every day and owe you a big thanks! House always there in case you want to make it back out here sometime. Besitos…

  5. This sounds like a lot of fun. Hope this note finds you well!

    • Hey Erikka – how are you? Long time since Paris. Where did your latest adventures take you? Make sure you put Andalusia on that long list of yours… Thanks for reading and many hugs 😉

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