I’ve never really been a party animal. I used to be something of a music animal but even in my youth, it had to be my music on my terms. Even if the music in question was the best Led Zeppelin track ever [I’ll leave that one to you], I do not ever want to hear my neighbour playing it because it isn’t on my terms.
The Spanish, by contrast, absolutely love a party, particularly a town party. They, of course, call their town parties fiestas. There are usually some daytime diversions involved, often revolving around food and drink. [Yes, I am a fan of both of those.] There may be some entertainments/demonstrations, too, such as the curious Catalan habit of building human towers, called castells, by making a small and fearless child stand atop the shoulders of four or five levels of slightly less fearless but much stronger adults, some wearing crash helmets to keep the Spanish health and safety folks happy. [Yeah, right.]
And, of course, what party would be complete without some music? Fear not, a fiesta is a proper party and there is always live music, sometimes even during the daylight hours. What I utterly fail to comprehend about the Spanish mentality is that most of the fiesta music is performed during the night. No, not the evening, the night. Spanish fiesta music stages tend to fire up at about midnight. As the stars revolve around their celestial orbits, rising and setting as the night progresses, the music continues becoming, it seems, ever louder. That could, I suppose, just be the fact that all other ambient noise ceases, but I really do think the volumes get cranked up. This assault on the eardrums of those non party animals attempting to sleep continues generally until 05:00 or 05:30. Why in Darwin’s name must it happen all night?
I have enough trouble getting to sleep at the best of times, i.e. in complete silence, but with a nearby Spanish fiesta in full swing I have no chance. Casa is built half way up a mountain facing a couple of villages and our balconies combine with the hillside to make a very good noise catcher. I’ve tried earplugs but they’re too uncomfortable – just the feel of them in my ears kept me awake – and were, I found, not terribly effective against rock music. What must it be like for the residents at ground zero? I can’t imagine that the sprightly Spanish octogenarians, fuelled by endless Soberano at 8€ a litre, burn their midnight oil and shake their wrinkly bodies down to ground zero until the wee small hours.
Shortly after arriving for this visit, we found out that we’d flown straight towards another local fiesta this weekend. Ground zero this time is Jalón. Our more usual bugbear is the nearby village of Alcalalí, actually slightly closer. There has been a fiesta in Jalón on one of our previous visits and that wasn’t too bad; maybe the wind was in a favourable direction taking the worst of the racket away from us. Earlier this week, we saw a massive marquee being erected in the main square and enclosing all of it but the surrounding footpaths at the sides. Preparations were well underway.
Sure enough, at about 23:30 on Friday we began to hear music. Well, I assume it was music but given the distance and distortion caused by intervening buildings it came across as unrecognisable noise. It was just enough to keep me awake. It continued to be just enough to keep me awake until my last conscious time check during what still felt like Friday night at around 03:00. At some time I must have entered the land of nod because my next conscious time check of what might just about have felt like Saturday morning came at about 05:00, when I had a vague recollection of an odd dream. [Dreams are always odd.] “It’ll stop soon”, I remember thinking. Wrong! This ***kin’ fiesta continued until about 07:30 when whatever was being played had morphed into something sounding even less musical.
And don’t think for one minute that that’s it. This ***kin’ fiesta is something to do with Jalón’s patron saint and we’re told we can look forward to another three nights of irresistible entertainment.
Escaping to the Parador in Jávea/Xàbia sounded appealing. Calpe is out because they’re staging a Moors and Christians event on Sunday: battle #1, lunch, battle #2, knees-up. Besides, we have guests arriving.
Maybe that Soberano might work as an anaesthetic …