This is a continuation of our experience with Sant Antoni which started here.
7:30 is when the big song in the church started. Only 1,500 people can go in the church, but over 5,000 of us stood outside of the church to be part of it. It was a crush of people. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a crowd. Everyone was drinking and using their phones while the priest did a service inside the church. We weren’t technically in the church, we were all outside the doors and they used a microphone. He was a lot like a teacher “Everyone please be quiet ….” a few people shushed each other but it was a crowd of 5,000. “Yeah, guys, this is a sacred place. We need to quiet down….” A few more shushing. “Okay I’m not going to start until you’re quiet.” He actually said that, but like most teachers who use this threat he had to start eventually. Finally, what we all came to see/hear – the song – started. Here’s a video inside the church and believe me when I tell you the energy was the same if not greater outside. Drinks and phones were held aloft and the whole crowd of 5,000 swayed to the chanting. They belted out the whole song (this is how I know it takes 7 minutes to sing it).
As soon as it was over we were both drained. The swinging and swaying and jumping had jostled us around, not unlike a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert. So we began drinking, and like all our fellow festival goers we did it right from the bottle in the middle of the street. No open container laws – also it’s a street party. You’re kinda supposed to be drinking.
Our liquor of choice was a honey-wine we had seen other people drinking. You’ll note my fancy Sant Antoni neckerchief.
Before grilling up some sausage, we made a detour to see that dinosaur bonfire get lit.
Could you honestly resist seeing a 15 foot tall devil riding a tyrannosaurus rex lit aflame? No one could resist seeing that. Unfortunately all the neighbors refused to let anyone have access to their balconies. So they couldn’t pour gasoline on the dinos from the top. They took water bottles and tried to spray them from below but ultimately they wouldn’t/couldn’t be lit. SUPER disappointing. They struggled for 15-20 minutes to light them, everyone was complaining. We left. 2 hours later we checked on it and it was completely gone, so at some point it must have burned.
We went to Chris’s school to eat. They were nice enough to provide tongs and even some free food. You can actually see a desk (green) tipped over upside down, holding the grill and tongs.
Their big bonfire was already half gone, so we missed all the tests burning. We talked and grilled and ate all the “traditional dessert, please try it!” that people kept bringing us, which was awesome.
The demon and his helpers were making their rounds around the whole city. The city band, Sant Antoni, the demon, and the helpers went to every official bonfire and did 2 stanzas of the song. They started at about 8:00, and at 11:30 they still hadn’t made it to Chris’s school, yet. But we were exhausted so we headed in. We had already seen the dance a few times and heard the song a bajillion times. We had just undressed and were getting ready for bed when we heard the band going down our street. Okay, we can’t resist that. We got dressed and headed back out.
It turns out people become demon groupies and follow the crew all night. Doing the dance and song at every bonfire. It’s a sizable group, too, a couple hundred. So we joined them for one dance and then watched them again at Chris’s school.
We basically had front row seats, and we loved it. We followed the crowd a bit further, and then decided to go home for real.
The next day we saw the Pet Blessing Parade. We lined up early (even though we were exhausted from the night before). I saw tons of my students with their parakeets, bunnies, cats and dogs. Then of course there were loads of horses, donkeys, and sheep. Some horses were working horses, racing horses or even the Spanish trained dancing horses. Sant Antoni is more a saint of horses than dogs but that hardly matters.
Some animals would perform for the priest as he blessed them with holy water. All the kids got little candies from the church, too.
Also many people dressed up in traditional garb as well as the Sant Antoni devil gear. Little kids carried their pet birds or were pulled around by their huge family dogs. Some little girls got to ride their horses while their parents jogged alongside. Other people just wanted their pets blessed but didn’t want to be part of the parade so they ducked out and went home.
It lasted 3-4 hours. While it was the best parade I’ve ever seen (who doesn’t want to see their community display all their pets?) we were tired and hadn’t even had breakfast yet (at 1 pm). So we left a bit early.
There were some more events (this was the real day of Sant Antoni, everything else had just been pre-gaming). But we just couldn’t.
Sant Antoni, is, in short, an amazing celebration. We feel more a part of the community than we did a few weeks ago. Nothing like grilling together, chanting and swaying together, then seeing them display all their pets to remind you that we’re all just people looking to have a good time and keep our pets happy and healthy.
Here’s a Youtube video we made showing what it all looked like. It’s so difficult to explain the energy and chanting and we’re so glad we took videos and pictures.