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La Merce

It took about 25 hours (between flights, layovers, and trains) to arrive in Barcelona from Dallas, but the wait was definitely worth it! The flight tickets were also very cheap so I can’t complain too much about the length, but I will let it be known.

Barcelona has been amazing! We had the very lucky chance of being here when they had their annual “La Merce” festival, honoring their city’s patron saint. And boy do Barcelonians know how to celebrate! We started the weekend by going to the Gigantes Parade.

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Followed by the tradition called “Las castellers” which translates to the towers.

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And yes they literally create these giant human pyramids that put to shame any effort of mine. Exhibit A:

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I am just astounded by the strength of these people. And at the very top of the tower the bravest of brave 5-year-olds, with a helmet, will climb up all the other castellers to get that extra little bit of height. Then they proceed to literally slide their body down the length of the towers. One tower that we saw, people were shaking so much on their second try I was thinking this was going to be it. This is a human catastrophe. In fact, we were told that the children climbing to the top had to start wearing helmets a few years ago because one child died from falling off the top. Goodness!! But they powered onward and created these really intense towers! It was definitely a sight to see. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about it. It seems very dangerous, I mean a child died. But at the same time it’s really cool to see this tradition that was developed hundreds of years ago. And in a way it kind of honors this child who clearly loved this or else he/she wouldn’t have climbed to the top. I don’t know though. I’d be interested to hear other perspectives on this too!

On Sunday we celebrated La Merce with a tradition called “correfoc” or “fire run.” This was probably one of the more insane activities I have participated in. Let me also give you the context into how Zach was convincing me to go to this event:
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Anyhow I still somehow willingly went without protest and it was a great decision. Basically, it’s exactly as it sounds. There’s people holding these firecrackers/sparklers/plain old fireworks chasing you, and you get in the middle of the street allowing them to chase you, and you run and duck and cover and then eventually embrace it because it’s loud, exciting, there are drums playing, and the adrenaline just grabs hold of you! But enough of the chit chat, it’s better just to watch it anyway:

 

Can you just see the insanity??

We ended the night with an awesome fireworks show in front of the National Art Museum and the magic fountain. It was beautiful and one of the best I have seen yet! They coordinated it with music perfectly. During one song, people in the crowd pulled out sparklers and handed them out and it was just a really cool experience to join.

I think these moments have been some of my favorite parts. It’s hard to experience a place’s culture within the three and a half short days we have spent here. But when it’s clearly marked like this festival, it makes it very easy to do just that! A big reason I personally want to travel around is to experience these other cultures like this. To get in the thick of it and learn everything I can firsthand. So these last few days have been a blessing!

We will be leaving early tomorrow morning (September 27) to go to France. We’re planning to rent a car in Perpignan and taking the week to drive up to Paris. Driving in a foreign country where we don’t really know the language will be…a great adventure!