Fiestas Time Again

Thursday, July 18, 2013 0 comments
With the beginning of July comes the week of fiestas here in Dénia.  Last year Eric didn't really understand most of what was going on.  This year, I guess, he still didn't understand it all, but he was able to appreciate more of it.  On the plus side, his cousin Noa was spending the week with her father, so Eric was able to see her and play with her more often.

I was watching Noa jump with the older kids while Mauri stayed with Eric in the smaller castle.
To begin the week, we walked around the town a bit, and took advantage of the kids' activities that are planned each day on one of the streets.  They set up inflatable castles for the kids to jump on, and some of those include water with slides.  Noa wanted to go with us, so we brought her along.  She was well prepared with a bikini, but we didn't have anything for Eric.
They first jumped for awhile in the dry inflatable castles.  Noa was jumping with the older kids, and Mauri was watching Eric in the other castle.  So, I didn't get any pictures of him.  While I was there, I ran into some girls that I knew from working at the UNED.  They were also there with their kids.
It was getting late, but Noa still wanted to try out the water inflatables.  Most of them were too big for Eric, but he, of course, wanted to be part of it all too.  Luckily with potty training I always have a change of underwear available.  :)
So, they headed to the smaller slide for little kids which was completely empty.  Of course, the second the older, rowdier kids that were playing on the nearby slide saw them go there, they pushed their way over there too.  I was worried about Eric because they were playing very rough.  The slide had a steep slope, too, and there wasn't enough water in the pool below to really cushion the hard blow when Eric reached the bottom.  At one point his head hit the ground.  We thought it would be enough to make him want to leave, but he wanted to keep playing.  We had to deal with a huge temper tantrum when it was time to leave.  Maybe that's one of the reasons we didn't make it back there again this year.  Next year should be better.
When we were leaving, Noa told us she was hungry.  So we let her and Eric decide where we were going to go eat.  Eric chose Mc Donald's because he has just finally learned how to use their big slide there.  He can even go up it backwards!!  Plus, they are featuring the minions from Despicable Me in the Happy Meals right now, and Eric has become obsessed with that movie recently.  I can't complain because I'd much rather watch Gru every day than to have to play Kinectimals on the xbox.  
The next day, Noa was to have a party in the barrio (where their grandparents live).  We are part of the celebration in the street, so during fallas and fiestas we spend a lot of time there.  They close off the street to cars, and the kids have fun playing in the street together.  Eric is too young to play with most of them, but he does have fun with Noa and one other little girl named Llum.  Noa was expecting a slumber party, but there was a bit of a misunderstanding.  In Spanish, a "slumber party" is translated to "pijama party" and their grandmother understood that she wanted to have everyone play in pijamas in the street.  :)  In the end, most of the kids were gone that day, so Noa invited a friend to come over, and I painted their faces.  They wanted to be princesses, of course.
A few other kids came over when it was time to eat, but most of the "party" was really just Noa and her friend.  Eric would periodically go over and try to play with them, but most of the time they were doing things that he couldn't really do.  So, he did his own thing, and played with his papi for awhile.  They tried out somebody's skates, and Eric loved them!
The next day was the day of the paella in the street.  They made a huge paella for 90+ people, and it turned out really well.  Eating out in the street in the middle of July, though, can get a bit hot.  So, we prepared for it by going to Tita's pool that morning.

Over the last week or so, Eric has really begun to enjoy the pool again.  His new favorite thing to do is to jump off the stairs and swim across our pool.  You can see in the video above how he went from being deathly afraid of being in the pool, to being fearless when jumping in.  You can also see how I've been making use of the pool time to help him improve his counting skills in both Spanish and English.  He can count to ten perfectly in both languages since then.
I didn't know how Eric was going to react to Tita's bigger pool, but he ended up loving it!!  We spent the entire morning with him jumping into the pool from the edge.  He wanted to do it over and over again, and had fun playing with the other kids in the pool.  I used up all of my memory card at the pool, so I wasn't able to get pictures of the paella, but it was another great afternoon.
The nest day, Thursday, is the day set aside for the "cucañas" in the street for the kids.  I was hopeful that this year Eric would be able to participate in more of the fun.  As usual, he mostly did his own thing, but did get into the fun at certain points of the afternoon.
The cucañas begin each year with the ribbon race.  The kids line up and ride their bikes down the street.  As they approach the string of envelopes, they are supposed to pull on the tab to win a ribbon without stopping.  In the group, though, the rules aren't very strict, and all of the kids are able to win their ribbons.  At first, Eric didn't want any part of the fun.  The other kids were all participating, and he was riding around on his (actually Noa's old) motorcycle down the street.
Once we forced him to try it, he decided that it was a lot of fun, and kept going over to the envelopes to try to pull out ribbons.  It didn't matter to him when the other kids were going or not.  He wanted to pull out ribbons on the way down the street and again on the way back up it again.
The other kids proceeded to play a few more games.  Luckily Eric was too preoccupied with his new ribbons to want to be a part of the food fight games.  I think Eric would have hated them anyway.  He doesn't like to get dirty or messy, and even refuses to let anyone paint his face or draw on him.  I remember one time that he got some pen on his hand, and was inconsolable for over half an hour.  :)
The older kids began to run an egg and spoon race.  We gave Eric an egg on a spoon, which he held for awhile.  He decided, though, that using the spoon just wasn't practical, so he threw it on the ground, and held the egg.
Once the races were over, the water fight began.  Every year they prepare water balloons for the kids to throw at each other.  They also bring out the hoses and even the adults get involved.
Eric is obsessed with balloons, but I don't think he liked the idea of them breaking.  At one point, his grandmother threw one at him, and he got wet and cried.  That didn't prevent him from trying to throw a few himself, though.
Someone is about to get wet!!
The water balloons quickly disappeared, so everyone turned to their hoses to get other people wet.  Eric is used to helping me water the plants outside, and he quickly ran to take over the job of watering the people.
Even when musical chairs began, Eric didn't want to stop spraying people.  So, the poor kids playing musical chairs ended up getting a bit wetter.
After the games were all over, the presents were handed out.  Last year I bought the kids of the family water pistols because the parents of the street decided that their kids were too old for presents anymore and just wanted to hand out candy instead of the usual surprises that they bought for the kids.  They would hand out a few inexpensive toys, and the kids would spend the rest of the afternoon playing with them there in the street.
Not only does the dentist in me not love them handing him candy every time we go anywhere, but I was a bit upset that they were changing the whole tradition just as Eric was getting old enough to enjoy it.  I mean, we pay our part in the fiesta just like all of the other parents, right?  So, I went on my own and bought the water guns for Eric, Noa, and a few other kids that were there with us.
We ended up leaving too early to actually get to play with them last year, but it seems that the idea was a good one because this year the presents were back, and they were water pistols.  I didn't think that Eric would be able to use them yet, but he figured it out, and had a blast trying to spray anybody and everybody!!
They also started to hand out big balloons filled with rice.  The idea was to shake the balloons like maracas to make the rice sound.  Sadly, either the balloons were very fragile, or the rice was very pointy, because many of the balloons ended up breaking right away.  Eric's was no exception, and he was very sad when it broke.  "Mommy, fix the balloon!!"
Running around with his water gun some more distracted him from the trauma of his balloon bursting.  His happiness was short-lived, though, and he threw another tantrum when it was time to go home for dinner and bedtime!!
Every day during fiestas seems to have some activity or another planned in the street.  Friday is no exception, and Friday night the "festers" of San Juan perform a play out in the street.  To raise some money for our week of fiestas, the people of the barrio sell some drinks and hold a raffle for the people who come and watch.  Mauri and I have never won anything at the raffle, and I never understand anything going on in the play.  The play is performed in Valenciano, and, despite understanding almost all of it in conversations and tv, I can't hear it well enough to ever really understand the play.  I get the feeling, though, that I'm not missing out on too much.  (Did I just write that?)
People from all over town come to the group to see it, though.  The only problem is it ends up getting very late, and the big dinner is always held after the play.  It was probably around 11PM before we were setting up tables for dinner time.  I don't know how, exactly, Eric was able to handle it.  Once we began eating, though, he couldn't handle anymore.  So, we ate a few bites and went on our way!
After the late night, Eric slept in, but woke up in time for lunch and dinner in the street.  Before dinner, though, we went to the annual float parade.
Every year, the different fallas sectors make floats and compete to make the best float of the city.  They get dressed up in costumes that fit with the theme of their float, and are also judged on any dances/actuations performed during the parade.
Normally each falla makes two floats, a bigger one for the adults, and a smaller one for the kids.  Because of the financial situation here, though, this year each falla only made one (adult) float with the exception of one falla, Baix la Mar.  One of the floats (Falla Diana) was even repeated from last year with a few minor changes.
Eric was pretty tired by the end of the parade.  Fiestas can be exhausting, I guess.  He did have fun running around on the street between floats, though, and running for candy when the various fallas threw some out for the kids.
Sunday brought the last day of fiestas.  We decided to not participate in any more activities in the barrio.  Instead we stayed home relaxing.  In the afternoon, we did decide to go to the last session of "Bous a La Mar."  Mauri's brother has a small speedboat, and we took it out to where the plaza has been set up on the port to watch the show from there.  It is more comfortable, and cheaper, than watching from the plaza.
Mami, cows!!
Eric did point out at the "cows" several times.  That said, he didn't sit and watch any of it for very long.  He found jumping on papi and Noa a lot more fun!
Both kids were a little tired of it all by the end, and they were ready to go home.

The cows and bulls that day were pretty entertaining, though.  Some days the show can be pretty boring, but our show had good animals that made a lot of people jump in the water, and a few jumped in themselves.
I would have liked to take Eric to the closing show of the fiestas, the giant fireworks display.  The fireworks are set off from the water in the port, and the show is usually pretty.  Eric is still obsessed with fireworks since fallas time, and I know he would have loved it.  The problem is that they set the fireworks off at midnight, much to late for both Eric and Mauri.  So, after seeing the bulls, we went home and said goodbye to the fiestas until next year.
Each year Eric should be able to participate in more things and appreciate the fiestas more!
I'll sign off with another video that pretty much sums up the whole week of events:


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