San Juan is a special celebration in many parts of Spain, and mercifully, for people like myself, one of the many excuses to not work (there is practically a fiesta every other week here, which is awesome). This fiesta is a celebration of the summer solstice and the shortest night of the year. People go hang out at the beach, go to parties, and do a bunch of other fun things to celebrate, most notably: throw petardos.
“Petardos” are little firecrackers that make a bunch of noise and have almost no aesthetic value whatsoever. You throw them on the ground to make a racket, but they don’t shoot up in the sky or emit any sort of light or anything. The first experience I had with a petardo was on my run. I was just bopping along to my music when all of a sudden something exploded in relatively close proximity. I’m sure you can imagine that aside from scream a little, I practically executed the stop-drop-and-roll tactic.
Aside from petardos, people also have actual fireworks; although they’re rarely organized into legitimate “shows.” Typically, people just buy the fireworks and petardos, meet up with their friends, drink a little, and then go nuts. When you walk down the street, it’s almost like a symphony of explosions—a description that I’m confident those reading this blog back home will find somewhat . . . troubling. But not to worry; only a very, very few people wind up in the hospital! 🙂 Regardless, I stay away from them.
For this San Juan, Agustín and María Eugenia treated Uge, Paty, a really nice girl named Monica (different Monica) and myself to drinks atop Mount Tibidabo in the very classy Hotel Florida. It’s situated on a cliff just below the peak of the mountain, where a beautiful, illuminated church sits atop. The porch of the hotel bar overlooks the entire city of Barcelona. You can seriously see everything: the farthest outskirts, the Mediterranean Sea, and everything between them. We were very, very high up. So with all of the fireworks and petardos going off all over the city, with no synchronization whatsoever, it was like watching little bubbles of light rise up the way bubbles rise to the surface in a glass of champagne. The sounds weren’t at all loud from where we were sitting; it was closer to the sound of someone having a field day with a meter of bubble-wrap at a distance of about ten feet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t walk away with any good pictures. My phone has been a good enough companion thus far, but asking it to see tiny specks of light in a vast black backdrop was a little too much for it to handle. So, I just sat back, watched, and enjoyed the ambiance!
The parents sat together at a separate table, so we girls just talked. It was really relaxing, really special, and I felt it was really demonstrative of the atmosphere of San Juan. I had only one night to see San Juan, so María Eugenia and Agustín made sure I got to see quite literally everything! (But could I see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch . . . ? Sorry, it’s a reflex.)