La Mercè: Part 3

IMG_1101I’m tired. Whether it’s the daily acclimation to the culture or the language or the work or the fact that I’ve been sneezing and blowing my nose for almost 5 weeks straight or the dehydration (thanks to not drinking the water until Regina informed me that Barcelona’s water is, in fact, potable), I’m feeling a bit worn down. (No, I don’t know exactly what “potable” means, but to be clear, in Regina’s words “This isn’t Mexico!”). I want to go to the beach. With deft precision, Amanda and I execute a perfect Saturday afternoon: To the beach by 11:00 and to Cal Pinxo by 3:00, to try out what Marta has assured us is among the best paella in the city. Of course, Marta doesn't lead us astray. The seafood is fresh, the rice al dente and a thick crust lines the bottom of the caste iron skillet in which it’s delivered. Perfecta! I show a complete lack of decorum by asking for salsa picante (Tabasco), which I realize is the equivalent of asking for ketchup for my scrambled eggs, but alas, I can’t resist. We throw caution to the wind by ordering not one, but two bottles of cava, which we drink with delight. Several videos -- and a close call when I try to wipe my mouth with the table cloth, almost wreaking havoc on our table -- later, we're snapped back to reality when Regina calls to say we’re meeting for Correfoc in an hour and a half. We’ve been at the restaurant for more than 3 hours.

After a brief moment of panic that too much cava might spoil the evening, we push through and head back to my apartment to get ready. Overcoming all obstacles, we make it to the firerun just as it's about to start at 8:00.

Words can’t convey the sheer pandemonium of this event. It would simply not be possible in the States: a two hour parade in which hundreds of devils pulling armored vehicles disguised as dragons shoot fireworks at the exhilarated crowd of men, women and children, who run through the streets covered in protective scarves, gloves and goggles, delighting in the challenge of getting as close to the action as possible without getting oneself set on fire.

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It’s crazy and wonderful and one of those stories you’re pretty sure you’ll be boring some poor child with in the very distant future. The night ends on the beach, the five of us watching fireworks over the ocean, making big plans for Sunday, which we all secretly know we’ll probably sleep through. Happily, we do.