Fiesta de San Juan: Thurs, Jun 19, 2003

We’re well into our 6th week without rain, and temperatures are in the upper 30’s each day. I now understand siestas much better! Just been down to Orgiva with my friends from the riding stables. I don’t usually like Orgiva but on Thursdays it’s market day and Orgiva is a lively blend of colour, smells and sounds. Flamenco music blares out from all corners as hippies try to sell spices and all manner of weird articles. It’s a funny combination, reminding one of Africa, Egypt and the Mediterranean all at once. Good excuse for a piss up anyway!

One thing about this place. They love having fiestas. They have ones for this, ones for that, ones for all occasions. I personally think it’s so that they can all close shops for the day and get blind drunk…..who knows! Lanjarón’s major festival is just round the corner ………….. the Fiesta de San Juan. This is the major fiesta of the year and the town is gearing up for the big day, well days actually, because it lasts 5 days. There are stands being put up all along the high street, bunting and flags fly above the streets. Adverts are all over the place advertising this year’s fiesta. The hotels are getting full. The place is buzzing!

“What is it all about?“ I hear you ask. Well, the Fiesta de San Juan is one of those extremely important, meaningful festivals that occur in Spain from time to time. This is all about…..“water”. For an area that is so conservative with its water and also has the best water in Spain (if not Europe!) it really goes mad about the San Juan Water Fiesta. Dont expect to keep dry for 5 days as people throw water at you from their houses, kids pelt you with water bombs, even bartenders will chuck glasses of water at you. The whole of the population is soaked for nearly a week. Drive through with your car window open and you will be “hosed”! No matter how posh and upstanding you look you will be attacked. Nobody is spared. Naturally, to particpate fully it helps if you are absolutely blind drunk, as everybody is. This is all done with a smile on the face and an acceptance of the celebration rituals. Bands play and discos blare throughout the night. This wonderful expression of Spanish cultural history starts on Saturday.

Me ………………. I’m going up the hills for 5 days. They should be quiet and deserted, as everbody will be in Lanjarón. Just hope it doesn’t rain?

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada