What we celebrate these days is my fifth Festa Major since I moved to Catalonia and the correfoc ("firerun") last Friday made me recall the first one. Already back then had I started to read the Diari de Vilanova, so I understood that this was a major event, but I did not have a clue about what to expect.
Some friends from home – he from Sweden and she from Denmark – had come to visit us for the weekend, and for dinner my wife and I took them to a little pizzeria in the narrow streets around the church Sant Antoni. On the way back home, we heard the echo of explosions but were not at all prepared that hell was soon about to break lose. It happened when we arrived at the plaça de les Neus: strangely dressed men and women lit up sticks which then whistled and sprayed fire over us. We were all totally scarred and, to make matters worse, felt as if everybody who lined the streets found our reaction highly amusing.
Trying to be good hosts, my wife and I grabbed our friends under the arms and pulled them with us across the Rambla and kept on running until we reached the C/ Escolapis. However, the relative calm did not last for long: at the plaça de la Vila we saw and heard explosions in front of us, in the C/ Colom, but also to the right in the avinguda Francesc Macià and, to the left, in the C/ de la Fruita. Being totally surrounded, we realized that we had to be brave and run across the horrifying cercavila (parade) for a second time.
Some minutes later, with beers in front of us and at a safe distance from the lower part of the plaça dels Carros, did we finally relax enough to start to talk about what we were witnessing; noise at decibel levels which people from Scandinavia do not experience even in our nightmares and absolutely dangerous fire flying in the air. As if to prove how right we were, in front of our eyes the curtains in an open window on the other side of the square caught fire. But again, we were the only ones who were appalled and the devils continued their dance as if nothing had happened.
“Are you sure that you really want to live here?”, asked our friends. My wife and I tried to defend our new home by saying that this evening was an exception and that Vilanova was usually a calm little town, but at the same time we were so grateful that our little son (our youngest one still was not born yet) spent the summer holidays with his grand parents in Sweden.
As you will understand, I have evolved a bit since that evening. Nowadays I look forward to the correfoc and I am, of course, well prepared with a long sleeved shirt and a cap. I have learnt to love the smell of gun powder and I get childishly excited when I feel the sparks of fire around my head. But I still cannot stand the noise and my solution is to wear ear plugs. That part of the correfoc test I will fail even in the future. I will never become a good Catalan.
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Learning from Wikipedia that the Ball de Diables of Vilanova is one of the oldest, still active ones, I feel embarrassed not to have managed to film them. I promise to compensate during the folk dance exhibition coming Wednesday.
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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Festa Major, Penedès, Vilanova