Picture of the Week

3 July 2014

Week 26: Hogueras de San Juan

Filed under: — Administrator @ 06:49

The week leading up to June 24th is one of the major fiestas in Alicante. The fiesta is called “Hogueras de San Juan” and is a week-long orgy of fireworks, eating and drinking. The word Hoguera refers both to the holiday and to the plastic and paper maché statues that are raised around the city, mostly in the centre but also in the residential neighbourhoods such as the one where I live. Around midnight on June 24th, the hogueras are burned, marking an emphatic end of the holiday since they are stuffed with explosives. I actually skipped the events–I was not in the mood for crowds and noise–but I did spend some time walking around and photographing the statues.

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I begin with a couple of random pictures, however. This was taken outside the Vistahermosa clinic where I went for a check-up. Two very well-known symbols, juxtaposed:
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Very early Sunday morning (or very late Saturday night)–two of our friends in our backyard during a party:
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Then we move on to the hogueras. I took the pictures during the day on the 24th, when I went for a walk in the neighbourhood and in the centre to have a look at them before the burning that night.

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This is in my neighbourhood:
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People come and study the statues:
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Social commentary. This hoguera depicts a newly minted university graduate who has found a job crushing grapes with his feet, the only kind of work he has been able to find, “thanks to the government’s labour market reforms”:
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Meanwhile, children are lighting firecrackers everywhere, the main reason I dislike this holiday–it is impossible to walk my dog during the week:
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This is one of the biggest hogueras in the centre of Alicante:
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I spent some time exploring it with my camera. There were many interesting details:
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Many streets around the city had been turned into outdoor bars, including our Rambla. Now these were being packed up, since from the next day life was returning to normality:
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This is the “official” hoguera on the square in front of City Hall:
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A closer view, with City Hall in the background:
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A nearby street, also closed with a hoguera:
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Another random image, a young woman waiting for someone near City Hall:
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Walking back to the car, I stopped to photograph this hoguera, very topical to the area where it is placed–Calle San Francisco is well known for street prostitution and nightclubs of dubious repute:
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Then mercifully the Hogueras de San Juan ended, and life returned to normal. I received a new lens for my Fuji X-Pro 1 camera, a 60mm macro, and I immediately went about testing it on subjects at hand.

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Classic dog portrait:
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This is the pose Cheeta usually assumes when I come home from a bike ride:
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Extended cat family:
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Banana leaf, wilting in the heat:
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My mother’s cactus, which I adopted following her death in 2001, is getting ready to bloom again:
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My wife’s ashtray illuminated by the setting sun:
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Finally, a picture taken while cycling at the weekend, somewhere between Elche and Alicante. A scene which could just as well have been in Northern Europe, except for the palm tree in the background:
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