Today is a day off as the metal workshop is closed for the weekend. This gave me a welcome opportunity for a lie in, especially after rather late, boozy and excellent night we had after the Foguera i festa de Sant Joan (Bonfire and festival of Saint John). What a spectacle! And I'm told this is just the small one, in August they have 3 or 4 Devils troupes running around the streets trying to outdo each other with noise and general firework harassment of the delighted crowds.
For the brilliant and fairly dangerous fireworks shenanigans, a group dress as dancing, firework-throwing devils leading a chaotic procession through the streets. They follow a mannequin character dressed as a Templar Knight riding a fibreglass bull and are joined by a set of drummers who set the pace. The bull is manipulated by two Devils much like a pantomime horse but excreting crackers and fireworks that whizz past your head and shower you with sparks. I got hit by some shrapnel a couple of times but what's the odd singe between friends? The Devils are particularly devilish and cheekily chase people with live fireworks and cause all sorts of mayhem. The noise is incredible. The procession ends up in the football grounds where a large bonfire burns and, yes, you guessed it, more fireworks. Great night!
Always celebrated on the night of the 23rd of June, right across Spain, it actually has Pagan roots being the shortest night of the year in this part of the world and a celebration for the beginning of Summer. Traditionally, they burned bonfires to ward off evil spirits, much like Beltaine, one of the four seasonal festivals in Celtic tradition celebrating the beginning of Spring.
After a little Google research, it seems the particular saint in the festival title is St John the Baptist, who's day is the 24th June. I was a little confused as to why the character was dressed up as a knight and riding a bull as this seems very unrelated to John the Baptist. I still haven't found any explanation on the world wide web, so I'll have to ask Josep when we all go for a beer tonight. Yes, more beer. Ooft? The Catalans sure like to party anyway and don't need much of an excuse...when in Riba Roja...!
Final Riu d'Art artists, Phil and Anna, are arriving tonight so our little artistic quintet will be complete. I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone's work. Oli, who arrived last night, and Phil and Anna are all doing murals on external, slightly shabby, walls in the village giving them a new lease of life. Fortunately, the temperature is set to drop a little next week down to a more copeable 30-35˚C.
But less talk about work, today is a holiday. Where's my beer?...