¡Menos libertad y más paella!

Trip Start Dec 17, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Valencian Country,
Saturday, March 5, 2011

Today is the third day of Carnaval in Alicante.  So far it's been one of the most crazy, thrilling, exhausting, and downright strange experiences of my life.  I'm sure that by the end of it all, I'll have two posts' worth of stories, so that explains this unprecedented middle of the weekend update.

Carnaval has the same theory behind it as Mardi Gras.  Basically, get all of your sinning out of the way before Lent.  At least that's the history.  I doubt that anybody at Carnaval or Mardi Gras is thinking about Lent too much.  I would also compare Carnaval to Halloween because of the costumes.  All of the stores have had costumes on sale for the past few weeks.  People dress up as whatever they want, just like on Halloween.  I've been told to expect to see a lot of Obamas and Spongebobs this year.   

On Thursday night we went to a party called correfocs.  Basically it was a bunch of people dressed as demons playing music and running around with fireworks.  It was so surreal that even when I watch the video now, I don't feel like I was actually there.  This night was especially cool, because it kind of made me feel like a local.  This event definitely did not cater to the tourists.  You kind of had to already know about it.  In general, I go to the places in Alicante where the Americans go (Believe it or not, there aren't that many Spanish people at beer pong night), but this event was completely different.  Almost everybody there was Spanish.  The music, the food, and the wine were Spanish.  It was a complete immersion experience that has kind of made me worry that I've been missing out for sticking to the American places.

After the big correfocs show, there was a procession to a plaza in the barrio and then a salchicha cookout sponsored by the city.  Mmmmm.  Free wine and sausages.  I knew already that I was going to like carnaval.

I had to go to bed early because on Friday morning I had my second set of exams.  I think it went pretty well.  Now I only have 4 more weeks of school.

Friday night is the first big party night of Carnaval.  It was kind of cold, but there was still a lot going on in the streets and especially in the bars.  I won't recount too much of this night, because my parents read this, but I actually got home at a reasonable hour (4) because I was waking up early today.

Today we were out of bed and eating churros by 9:00.  Then we caught the train to Elche, a little city in the Alicante community.  Elche is basically known for two things.  The first is the Dama of Elche, which is probably the best example of ancient Iberian art.  The second thing is the giant palm tree forest around the city.  The Dama is in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, so we basically just went for the palm trees.  We bought some delicious and cheap dates (the fruit) and walked around the city and forest a little bit.  

 It was a quaint little place.   Had a pretty basilica built on top of the former mosque, just like any other Spanish city, and Arab baths that had been converted into a monastery.  That's the kind of thing you see all over Spain.  Little reminders of the reconquista.  The only mosque from the time of the Moors that's still operating is the one in Córdoba.  Of course, these days, not everybody is Catholic and there's no official religion in Spain, but it's hard to forget that this was the country of both the Moors and the Spanish Inquisition.  Spain was a Muslim country for 3x longer than America has been anything.  Think about that.

We didn't stay in Elche too long because we all need to rest up well for tonight.  It will be the biggest of the 10 nights of Carnaval.  Can't wait to tell you all about it next week.  Make sure you check out the video from correfocs.     
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Grandpa on

It is especially gratifying you do not self censure because your Grandfather reads the blogs.
Last year, we participated in the Mazatlan carnival. I would provide more details but alas my Nieta will read this.

Maria Puhl on

Free sausages and wine? That is awesome.

And the costumes all sound super cool as well - did you get one? Or did you just stay all gringa, because I bet that would have been pretty costume-y haha.

elaine74104 on

I made my own costume. Cave woman. Pictures on facebook.

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