Be at Paellas

Paellas 2019

On Thursday, July 25th Algorta explodes with people for a festival known as the locals as Paellas. This fiesta celebrates Saint James, and they have been making paella on the cliffs above Playa de Arrigunaga since the 1920s. This event draws out roughly 10 thousand total people. It starts around noonish, and the party doesn't end until the next morning if you can survive. To get to the party zone, take the metro to Bidezabal and head towards the beach. At this point, follow the smell and drones of families and cuadrillas, everyone will be walking to the same place.

For the official paella zone, the town gives out permits for spots to set up tables, tents, and area to make the paella. However, they are passed down from generation to generation, and it has a very long waiting list for the few other official spots. Not to worry, most people stake out a spot further up the hill in the non-official zone. Locals will secure their places the day before or even a few days before the event.

If you are invited to come with a group, everyone is assigned one thing to bring to the party. On top of the supplies to make the paella, it is custom to have bread, salad, sangria (typically stored in a cooler or a brand new trashcan), ice (for the sangria), a dessert, easy-up tent, chairs, and tables.

The younger generation of cuadrillas will start prepping for this event one to two weeks prior. Each morning and afternoon the groups will work on building a fort, where they will eat and party. The area of these forts is a large field next to the official zone, so they need to clear it all of the debris. They use anything from wood pallets to 4x4s to actual logs of wood. While walking a few days before the party, I was able to take these photos of the construction.

The forts later become into mini-discotecas or dance clubs. In the morning, groups put the final touches on their erected structures. Before my Dada ABC classes started, I went to take some photos before the carnage of the party.

I was sad to leave for work missing most of the eating, but I would be back in a few hours for the party.

It was a super humid day with storm clouds brewing. Thankfully the sky was clear in the morning I was able to get those pictures. Since I knew I was going to miss most of the eating part, I didn't go in with my group's paella. After work, I headed back to the party and met up with my close friend Holly. One of my gracious friends Sergio, did allow me to have a small plate paella. It was delicious. It eventually started to rain. I decided I would find my way to the forts to meet up with one of my other best friends, Ray.

Thankfully all the forts had a tarp roof. Later that night, it poured. Ray, his cousin and I ended partying until midnight, and then we called it a night.