So I have now decided that the officially worst day of the year to be in Barcelona is June 23rd, the Nit de Sant Joan (St. John’s Day). On this day every year, fire works are set off all night long all over the city. And when I say “all night long,” I do not mean a reasonable 10pm-midnight time frame. I mean ALL NIGHT LONG. And when I say “all over the city,” I do not mean orderly displays in several parks around the city. No, I mean IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE. Oh, and when I say “fireworks,” I do not mean the pretty kind that burst into a shower of colors up in the sky and make everyone go “ooooohhhh!”…. What I mean by “fireworks” are just VERY LOUD BOOMING CRACKING NOISES with no visual appeal whatsoever.
I know I’m going to just sound like a grumpy foreigner who doesn’t understand or respect local tradition, but seriously? What is the appeal? Even if you are drunk or a teenager or even a drunk teenager, WHAT IS THE APPEAL? I understand bonfires and revelry but does everyone have to go deaf and develop post-traumatic stress syndrome in the process?
I’m sorry about all the caps but even several days later, everything starts to grow larger and reverberate within my skull whenever I think of that awful night. The night which I spent huddled in a small room the size of a walk-in-closet with pillows over my head, ear plugs AND a white noise machine. Just call me the Grinch because if I could steal that holiday and stuff it down the toilet, I’d gladly do so in an instant.
The worst part is that I carefully planned for us not to be in Barcelona for Sant Joan. I made reservations for us to spend the weekend at an idyllic “casa rural” in the mountains of remotest Catalunya. Sadly I miscalculated the dates so that we did not leave until the morning after the big night. My only consolation was the both boys somehow slept through the whole thing. With Nico this didn’t surprise me much but with Luca, let’s just say he’s the kind of kid who makes The Tooth Fairy’s job very difficult. Nevertheless, the sounds of heavy gunfire and shelling right outside his window didn’t disrupt his slumber for even a moment. Oh, and when I say “right outside his window” that is exactly what I mean (sorry to keep doing that but I feel that I need to emphasize to you that in this story, I am speaking very much literally rather than figuratively). We live on the ground floor of our building so when someone walks by and sneezes on the sidewalk, I always have to stop myself from saying “Bless you.”
I wish I could conclude with this post with some lesson I have learned. Some sage advice about learning to respect other cultures or adapting to new customs or at least a good recommendation for a decent brand of earplugs. But no. There isn’t anything more to be said except “Bah! Humbug!”