Zodi’s Blog

Oh yea, Happy New Year!

With the last of the Manischewitz beer being drunk and the last of the challah bread being consumed marking the closing celebrations of Rosh Hashanah, it has occurred to me that I’ve completely forgotten to chronicle one of southern Spain’s oddest but liveliest traditions.

 

Every year the miniscule town of Berchules celebrates New Year’s on the first weekend in August. Of course they still celebrate New Year’s on New Year’s as well, this is just more icing on a party cake. On an already tightly packed drinking schedule; this fiesta has turned into the mother lode of all the fiestas.

 

Back in 1983 as they were literally in the final seconds of the New Year’s Eve countdown, their town clock stopped cold. Maybe it had finally OD’d. This country does love its blow after all. Everybody was standing around wondering, “Well what the fuck do we do now?” The spell was eventually broken when an old man finally looked at his watch and yelled, “Happy New Year!” The party got back under way and the clock was temporarily forgotten.

 

Spain being Spain, it took an entire 8 months to get the clock fixed. It was the first weekend in August when the clock fixer finally put down his cervaza, stubbed out his cigarette, and rewound the gears. Within 4 seconds the clock struck its midnight cord. Well, this shit caused a Pavlovian response for the ages. They must have been subconsciously waiting 8 months for the signal to resume the party, because when that bell struck, all hell broke loose. They started partying like it was 1999 or at least New Year’s 1984.

 

This impromptu party, like most Spanish drinking binges, lasted a full 3 days leaving the teenagers puking and the old men wondering the streets in a blacked out haze before succumbing to the drink in doorways and on benches. This, much like every other excuse to get plastered in Spain has turned into a tradition of epic proportions.

 

The problems (and they are legion) arise because Berchules is the town on the top left of this mountain……

                                                                                                                   blog pics 315

 Huge isn’t it? They have a population of 850 mostly elderly and infirm residents. There is one hotel which sleeps a whopping 35 people. Well, believe it or not, 10,000 revelrous party goers descend on this place like lions on a wounded antelope. They advance on Berchules in August like Muslims to Mecca. It’s like the second Woodstock without the decent music or the $8 water. And it’s one hot mess. 

 samba

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

We ended up going last year based on the rave reviews of some of the local drunken, stoned, X’d out British population. Plus we’re like a 45 minute walk away. Once you get up there you can’t move. It’s obviously strictly BYOB but there are no bathrooms. You’d think they’d bring in some port-o-potties, but nooooo. Half the people are on coke, half are on a very pure form of X called MDMA and everybody and their dog is shit faced drunk.

 

By the end of the night the place looks like I imagine the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg must have looked. Bodies on top of bodies as far as the eye can see. Instead of blood,, there is a healthy layer of piss and vomit saturating the ground. We just walked home, but from what I hear people get lost for days in the mountains trying to walk down to Cadiar because they are too busy tripping their balls off to negotiate a path.

  

The locals have obviously tired of all this fun and have tried to put a stop to it, but at this point, it has a life of all its own. Like some of the walking zombies at the event, it will not die. So while Brits still fly in from the UK every year for the privilege to attend, make the long trek up the mountain and party like its 1984, you’ll find me chillin in front of the TV. I must be getting old.

 

Anyway, Happy New Year!

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September 21, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

21 Comments »

  1. Scott,

    Thank-you for telling me about this, once again, you have taken journalism to another level.

    I can’t believe how ignorant I am. And to think, I spent the first weekend of August drunk out of my mind for a completely different reason.

    You see, in Canada, we have a “2/3 of The Way Through the Year Party” (or a 1/3 Left Until the Next New Year Party”, either/or).I guess the only similarity would be the puking teenagers and the old men wondering the streets in a blacked out haze before succumbing to the drink in doorways and on benches.

    Some things are universal, I guess.

    Let me know if you need a photographer to take pics of the event next year…I mean, you take some brilliant photos and all, but you might need someone who specializes in “night photography”.

    Comment by bschooled | September 21, 2009 | Reply

    • I didn’t even know that they used excuses to get plastered in Canada. I thought it was just a daily occurrence like it is here for drinking. They only use the excuses when it’s time to break out the blow or X. I mean, sure it’s cool to have a couple brandy’s first thing on a Tuesday morning, but for X it should be fiesta time. No?

      Actually I could definitely use your considerable talent. See my own skills lie in witty metaphors like, “lions on a wounded antelope,” or “Muslims to Mecca.” Not just anybody can come up with those kinds of lines. Now that I think about it, maybe this wasn’t my best work. Oh well, anyway my God, with your photography and my metaphorical prowess, we could change journalism into something not just newsworthy, but holy!

      Thanks B!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 21, 2009 | Reply

      • Those are really witty metaphors, Scott…

        Call me crazy, but I think I’ve found my new Spiritual Leader!

        Comment by bschooled | September 21, 2009 | Reply

        • Oooh, I’ve always wanted to be a spiritual leader! I heard the perks are fantastic!

          Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. I thought maybe they do this because basically August is the end of the work year for people in Spain. Well, all of Europe actually. I watch Bill O’Reilly and I know that all of Europe is basically one big pile of unemployed welfare loving dope heads. So, I just assume they don’t bother working anymore after the 1st week of August. Kind of like a Siesta for the rest of the year thing.

    Okay, I’m just jealous cause I want to go. Or, I could just go to Mardi Gras sometime. I think it’s pretty close to the same thing, only with more vomit and piss. 😉

    Comment by Jay | September 21, 2009 | Reply

    • You’re not wrong to go to Bill O for all of your cultural information, he’s right on the money. And such a worldly man! No, he must have gotten befuddled on that one though. While most Europeans enjoy between 4 and 6 weeks vacation. (Damn dirty hippies) and that vacation is usually taken either during August or September, it’s not the end of the work year yet.

      As far as I know this New Year’s tradition is local to only Berchules, and only because of the town hall clock thing. I’ve been to Mardi gras and it is very similar. Even the piss and puke levels are on par.

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  3. vomit and piss? I get enough of that at the Gimcrack

    Comment by nursemyra | September 21, 2009 | Reply

    • I’ll bet you do you poor thing. Hey, you should take a fiesta or at the very least, a siesta!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  4. Never had Manischewitz beer…thought they only made wine….sounds like a great time..love the pics of the chicks….Spain is the bomb diggity spent time in Rota and that was something….great blog

    Comment by steve | September 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for the kind words Steve, and thanks for stopping by! Spain is the bomb for partying. If you’re looking for a fiesta, you can always find one within a couple towns!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  5. It’s interesting how an excuse to party in the dead of August turned into a cultural tradition. It sounds to me like it celebrates the last hurrah of summer, and the begining of a new chapter in the year.

    Very good stuff.

    Comment by Candy | September 22, 2009 | Reply

    • That’s a great way to look at it Candy. Really, any excuse at all will do for a fiesta around here. It’s really a lot of fun until the wee hours when it gets gross.

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  6. Sweet. Let’s make plans to join the revelry next year. What’s not to like about watching British tourists puke and piss all over themselves? Cheers Scott!!

    Comment by Matt-Man | September 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Matt-Man, SOLD! Let’s do it. You’re due a trip to Spain anyway. It does take quite a bit to get the brits puking; they can usually hold their liquor as well as anybody. The whole thing is really a sight to behold. Shit, now I’m wishing I would have gone again this year.

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  7. do people fall off the mountain?

    Comment by dianne | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  8. It’s not really too steep so if they do fall, they’d just roll for a bit. Thanks Dianne!

    Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  9. That is great stuff, Scott. Excellent work!

    My favorite line (and I really hope this was intended to be a punchline) is: “It’s like the second Woodstock without the decent music or the $8 water.”

    Classic. It’s the “decent music” part that kills me. Now, music being very subjective and whatnot, this may just be funnier for me. If it is, then kudos! You may be pulling off punchlines you weren’t even aware of, possibly at your own expense.

    Never mind the theorizing, here’s the Sex Pistols.

    Reminds me of college, theoretically. (Scratch that. Theoretically. We had moved on. Scratch college as well. Never went.)

    Reminds me of college as I remember it from movies. In particular “The Rules of Attraction” with their monumental “Pre-‘Saturday Night Party’ Party.” Nothing like celebrating getting drunk tomorrow by getting drunk tonight.

    Keep posting, Scott. You’ve got some great material. I’ve blogrolled you because not everyone can turn the quaint “Old World” charm of Spain into a pointless drunken bash.

    Comment by Capitalist Lion Tamer | September 23, 2009 | Reply

    • That was a great comment CLT, and thanks for adding me to the roll! I can’t possibly tell you how many of my jokes end up being on me. Making an ass out of myself is my greatest shtick. It’s what I’m best at.
      While I wasn’t there, and didn’t experience it first hand, I was working on the turnpike at the time. A lot of people told me it was good. All I can remember is Green Day and Metallica, so I figured even if every other band sucked that should level it out enough to make it decent. I was wrong? Tell me why? I don’t know jack shit about music, seriously.
      I love celebrating tomorrows drinking by getting drunk tonight. That’s also one of my shticks. One of my better known shticks in fact. It can turn into a vicious cycle though once you get behind yourself and realize that you have to get drunk last night to celebrate getting drunk tonight. It fucks up the whole space/time continuum.
      You should visit sometime soon (before we go back) and experience some of this old world charm/pointless drunken bash. This entire country (as well as my mind) is now in a permanent discordant state.

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 23, 2009 | Reply

  10. Ah. The “great” music that I was referring to (and putting in quotes) was the infamous Limp Bizkit/Korn/Sevendust, etc. mook rock contingent. The one that incited rape, bonfires and the hurling of jeers and heavy objects at Kurt Loder. (OK, so the last one’s not all bad.)

    It takes a lot of bands to level out that fiasco. Green Day and Metallica are a start.

    Nothing like fuckhead Fred Durst, playing Mick Jagger at Altalmont, asking the crowd to “stay cool” and then playing “Break Stuff.” Fred has only one schtick.

    You know more about music than you think. The first thing you know is that musical taste is subjective. So, you’ll never be wrong.

    But because it’s subjective, in my mind, I’ll always be right. It’s a muthafuckin paradox.

    I should visit Spain. I hear it has pointless drunken bashes and Ibiza, where Jesus regularly DJs.

    Comment by Capitalist Lion Tamer | September 23, 2009 | Reply

    • Poor Kurt Loder, he’s such an amicable gent too. I had forgotten about most of those incidents. Fred Durst telling everyone to “stay cool,” and then playing “Break Stuff” is as schizophrenically discordant as my mind or this country. That’s just plain crazy.

      While I do agree wholeheartedly that music is subjective, I look at it like this; If you spend more time listening to/researching music than me, you know more than me. Generally speaking of course. If someone spends a ton of their time writing, then unless they’re half retarded, they’re going to be a better writer than someone who spends very little time writing. So in this case, I’ll trust your distinguished musical taste.

      And yes, Spain is famous for pointless drunken bashes. And Jesus as a guest DJ. As a matter of fact there is another huge pointless drunken bash coming up in 2 weeks here in Cadiar. It’s called ‘The Fountain of Wine.’ The vino literally pours from all of the town’ water fountains. It is glorious! But pointless.

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | September 23, 2009 | Reply

  11. Wow. I could so see myself dying there. Thanks, you’ve given me a dying wish.

    Comment by Ramblin' Rooster | September 28, 2009 | Reply


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