I had my first sneaking suspicion that all would not go well with the annual, five-day Frigiliana Fair when a three-story inflatable Sponge Bob slide — complete with wild eyes, enormous gaping teeth, and a quivering Patrick Star by his side — sprung to attention in the plaza beneath my balcony. Nothing so seemingly innocuous should look so evil.
I understood it was an omen (I am Sicilian, after all). I was wary. I glared at Sponge Bob. He snarled back.
To be sure, there were other signs of festival frights to come. Like the midnight deliveries and middle of the night construction of carnival rides in the plaza beneath my apartment. Hm, I thought to myself, these people sure do keep unusual hours.
Of course, there was also the conversation I had with my landlord on the day we moved into our apartment.
Me: So there’s going to be a fair next week? Is it fun?
Landlord: It is horrible. I leave town for five days. I can’t be here.
Me: What? Why?!
Landlord: The noise! Every year, the noise! Music until 6 a.m.! For FIVE days!
Me: Where does it happen?
Landlord: Under your balcony.
So, yes. I had a sneaking suspicion the fair would not be remembered as a particularly halcyon time. Still, we were excited — I love small towns, and I do enjoy a good small town fair.
On the Thursday when things officially began, I wandered through the rides and spied an evil mouse — I’d call him Mickey, but for copyright reasons, let’s just say he’s Miguel. I also watched dance troupes perform, snarfed sugared dough balls known as buñuelos, and eyed the beauty pageant which would crown the Queen of the Fair.
All was going swimmingly. I was charmed. Around midnight, we decided to call it a night, walked home, climbed the stairs to our bedroom, and lowered the metal exterior blinds. That’s when I realized just how clearly I could hear the eight-foot speakers in the plaza below us blasting Spanish and English pop songs.
Clearly, as in, I had to shout to be heard over Justin Bieber, but Ayaz was right next to me. A fountain of curses spewed out of me when unexpectedly, at 1 a.m. or so, a live band started playing at top volume.
At this point, one might have thought the fair’s other music sources (like the 8-foot speakers) would be turned off. One would be wrong. All parties just turned up their volume.
Around 3 a.m., after donning earplugs, popping a Unisom, playing two white noise apps and securing headphones, we had to admit: the party was just getting cranked up. It sounded like the bandleader was in my bed alongside Justin Bieber. And we had at least three more nights exactly like this to look forward to.
We made a hasty, if foggy-headed decision to head away from the hills and toward the sea. Oh, the insanity! We booked a 3-night hotel stay 15 minutes away in Nerja, the beach town directly below Frigiliana. It’s literally the town where we food shop. Oh, fie on you, Frig Fair! Fie! But you know what? Unexpected cost and all, it was totally worth it!
We had a getaway from our getaway. We chilled on the beach for the weekend, read lots of books (I’m currently obsessing over the Italian Inspector Montalbano mysteries series), ate some delicious and crazy spicy Indian food, drank inexpensive wine, and SLEPT. LIKE. LOGS.
We came home on the fair’s final day. We spent that last evening eating fair food, gaping at the creepy-looking rides, and dancing to a British cover band. If things were to go according to schedule, the festivities would end at midnight, with a fireworks display.
We waited til the magic hour, eager to see the show. It played out perfectly — for the Frig Fair.
Fireworks boomed overhead, launched a mere 30 yards from my balcony. We stared in awe at their sparkling colors — until ash and sparks started to rain down upon our heads. There was yelling and some scrambling as we rushed indoors to safety. Without missing a beat, we watched from our window as the fair finally, noisily, wound down with a fiery bang.