Abril Part 2 - FIESTA WEEK in BENISSA
Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
25Trip End Ongoing
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The atmosphere started to build some couple of weeks before, as the decorations were hung from every possible pole, rafter and beam. There was not a street that didn't have streamers swinging from above, and many home onwners had adorned their doorways with plants/hedging and flowers. All this in itself, was a sight to see as was the huge stage they spent days erecting, in this very average size town square. This stage in the small town of Benissa, was fit for any major rock concert.
The reason for the fiesta was primarily religious, and I will do my best to explain, a little bit of (I think) ...
From there, we finally got to the square, where Rosairo Flores (famous Spanish singer, check out google), was performing and as you can imagine the atmosphere was electric. Everyone was there, no matter what age, sex or religion - it was the only 'rock concert' that I've been to, that has literally spanned generations and has been 'incident free'
The Fiesta went from Friday to Sunday the following week - with concerts and or DJ's every night - generally these start around midnight and go on to the early hours of the morning. A few of the nights - we would get the kids to have a sleep early evening, and then go into town after 10pm.
Of course there were many things going on during the week that were new for us, including 'bull running'. Again, this was set up in the town square area. Imagine jail cells, going down one side and back up the other - this is where you would run if the bull came for you - you'd squeeze between the bars, and theoritically the bull can't get his horns though the bars. The more daring would run in the square (between the two rows of 'cells'), in front of the bull daring it to charge. It was safe enough for the bull (you weren't allowed to use anything to provoke it, or throw anything etc), but I can't say the same for the spectators. If you sat, up on the stand, out of harms way, like we did, you were fine, but unfortunately we did see one older man get rammed because the bull, had got up on it's hind legs on a makeshift stand/seat (with no protection), which caused this man to fall, and be attacked. Not moving, he was very quickly carried away. Only in Spain!
Of course, for the town of Benissa, this is as good as it gets, and they certainly now how to celebrate in style
The other thing I have to mention is on the Saturday (it finished on Sunday), we all went up to the top of town where the locals were gathered in their attire - let me explain ... they all wear the same t-shirt type thing, for the year they were born. I still haven't figured out how all that is organised, (or why) but there were groups of people there with 1943 to some little ones with 2007 on them. Obviously it's the same t-shirt they wear every year. After we'd been there for half an hour, listening to the school music band play ABBA and Boney M, they dished out octupus for everyone. There was plenty, and you could back and have as much as you wanted. Also, all that morning, there was free beer and water. It was that hot, that I even had a cold lager, and with the octupus it wasn't half bad. From there we follwed the groups down through the streets until we got to the town square, where it was all set up with long tables and chairs with your year written on it. This was the 'feeding of the 5000' so to speak, with one giant paella (see photos!). We couldn't belive it! They fed the whole town and I'm talking table service, with big plates of hot paella, and as much beer, wine and water as you wanted. This was all free, and it was outstanding. Can I add, incident free as well. Again, I say, only in Spain!
On the Saturday evenings/Sundays at the beginning and the end of the week, the churches were filled, where the residents dress in all their finery, and they are so proud
The whole week, costs the council 400,000 - 500,000 euros (1 mill kiwi), and is planned 12 months in advance. Whether it is 'right' to spend that sort of money on, what is basically a big party, while other things go by the wayside, is open to debate, however, we enjoyed every concert, firework and tasty morsel. We were grateful for the drink, the food that was so kindly provided to us, for the fun, the professionalism (dare I say it, the programme ran to time), the experience, the people .... another event for our memory bank, and we hope one of many more to come.