Dancing in Fire at Le Merce
We landed in Barcelona on the 25th of September, which was just in time to hit the tail end of La Mercé. This festival is held in Barcelona every year and is filled with lots of activities from wine tasting to dancing. The festival, which runs for about 5 days in late September, has been celebrated yearly since 1687. The religious origins honor the Virgin of Grace, patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona, and Saint Eulalia. The word merce has many meanings such as service and mercy, which speaks to the diversity of this festival.
Tired and jet lagged, we didn't get to experience much of the festival. However, we did wake up in time from our mid-afternoon nap to partake in Correfoc, which means fire runs. In this ritual, individuals dress as devils and light fireworks while chanting and running through the streets. Everyone is encouraged to join the parade and take part. By the way, it was raining but that sure didn't stop us - nor anyone else.
The creatures of the night
In addition to the demons and drummers, various demonic creatures paraded through the streets spitting out fire in all directions. This evil cat was just one of the many creatures. These fire breathing creatures come in all shapes and sizes. There were dragons, pigs, people etc.
"Come dance with us" - they said. And, so we joined.
,Several people jumped at the chance to join the ceremony and parade and to dance in the fire. So, I said "why not?" and partook in the activities along with everyone else. It was fun, exhilarating and nerve wrecking. One of the torch carries grabbed me instantly and danced me down the street. Caught up in the moment, I lost Ivan, who had my wallet and cell phone. Not that it would have worked anyway, we didn't have international phone plans. I panicked instantly trying to search through the sea of people and fire to find him. I had had enough and was not happy about being separated in a country where I barely spoke the language and had no clue as how to get home. Fortunately, I was able to find him, as he was waiting patiently on the side of the street. His eyes were also in constant search of me. When I found him, I knew I was safe and at home. We continued to join the parade but made sure to never separate again.
After the stress of our separation, we grabbed a 6-pack and stayed on the sidewalk to take in the scene in front of us. This was a better plan. We could observe, enjoy, relax, and have a beer. Not sure why it took us 2 hours of being at Correfoc to join that party. After a few beers, I became brave again and jumped into the parade. However, this time, the fire dancer decided to pour fire on my head! OUCH!!!! It really hurt and my hair burnt. Not one of my proudest moments but the picture came out super cool... and the video is even funnier.
NOTE: We should have probably worn fire protective clothing as we realized the next morning that all of our clothes were burnt from the flames.
The adventured continued....
Although the celebration was only supposed to last until 10pm, the fire runs continued well past midnight. We decided to leave and continue to explore the streets of Barcelona at night. Venturing on towards the port, we stumbled upon a ferris wheel and small carnival. Like brave souls, we decided to ride the ferris wheel as we channeled our tourist selves. We had hoped that we could see the entire city and that this ride would be the best thing ever!!! We saw, a small portion of the city and the journey was very anti-climatic. However, we did make some other tourist friends, who also agreed. Tired and hungry, we decided to call it a night and head home. The adventures could wait for another day... for now, we needed rest.
Good night, Barcelona! It's been swell.