Friday, July 15, 2011

We Hate it Here

I hate it here. Actually, it’s 8.30pm here now and I don’t hate it, but I did this morning. As I touched on earlier, we didn’t have the best first night in Benicassim. At one point someone fell on our heads as they stumbled past and then when the camp finally went quiet in the not so early hours, 5 or so boys decided the so-well-fought-for space in front of our tent looked like a good place to sit and yell drunken slurs about dickheads (5 full minutes of ranting by a guy at one point and 90% of the words he used were either ‘dick’ or ‘head’).

I tolerated the noise for about half an hour, accepting that we are at a festival and at least the tent was up and we could go to the beach in the morning. When one of the guys passed out on our tent however, it became a different story. We have 2 and a half more months in this tent and while I expect it will suffer a certain amount of wear and tear, I’m not going to sit back and watch it happen. As it turns out, I couldn’t actually leave the tent to yell at them, with one passed out across the bottom of the awning and another sat on the only other zip. I told them to get off the tent and eventually got the guy sat on the zip to move.

In all fairness when the one that was passed out was roused by my conversation with guy number 1, and realized he was on the tent, he was very apologetic and moved straight away. With the tent safe again, I thought I might be able to get some more rest, but while most of the guys disappeared, guy number 1 had unfinished business with a ballsy British chick whose teepee had been caved in by one of the boys. A massive row ensued with all sorts of abuse between the two. With people like that next door I’m glad I didn’t make any enemies – knock on wood.

As soon as we were awake enough to leave, we gapped it. After the madness of getting our tent up and then the rude awakening, we wanted to escape camp. We found breakfast and happily discovered that with the multitude of English tourists here for the festival, many cafes offered the big cooked breakfasts we have at home.

That was pretty much the highlight of the morning because the town Benicassim plainly sucks. The beach is awesome, and the beach side shops have awesome deals (much cheaper than our beloved San Sebastian) but the town itself is dirty and covered in graffiti. Wrought iron fences are bent at crazy angles and wire fences jump out at you from hedges. It’s bizarre because some of the beach side houses are stunning with beautiful mosaic pools and terracotta walls, and they will be right next to overgrown alleys with broken glass and spray paint.

I had a slight breakdown with Courts once we got to the beach. I’d been thinking a lot about why I was hating it so much, and I couldn’t get my head around it. I’ve wanted to come to this festival since I was 16, I had a decent understanding of the anticipated mess and debauchery and I knew how hot it would be. I still hated it. While everyone else chilled out and drank beers and made the most of it, I was miserable.

I think part of it was the fact that I knew Courts wasn’t into it. I thought it wouldn’t matter so much, I’ve been to concerts by myself when I’ve travelled before, and he’s with me for everything else. But we bought tickets based on the reputation of the festival, because artists hadn’t been announced at the time, and while there are plenty of artists I want to see, there aren’t any I would die if I missed them. I kind of need someone else’s energy to bounce off.

It made me homesick. I missed Squish because we are festival buddies and both open to all the same kinds of music, and together we would have made ourselves make the most of it. And I missed Soul Buddy because I knew she would feel the same as me, surrounded by drunks and wanting to escape to a hotel with a wine, to be a grown up and do the same fun things at the beach and in the town but without the insanity.

Surrounded by party animals I felt old and boring. When I’m single I tend to party more and I wondered if I were here single, would I still hate it? Not at all because I want to be, but because I was trying to decide if it was attitude or age that was affecting my mood.

I don’t want to be wasted 24/7 and lose half my stuff and break that which I don’t. I like the quiet campsites we’ve been to, where we can do our own thing at our own pace in our own space. We’ve made friends at them and we’ve drunk a couple of times. We’re not boring, just making the most of our holiday. Our favourite bits have been exploring new towns and experiencing the countries like locals, but this town sucks and the locals are in hiding. I would feel better if I was crazy excited about the music, feeding off someone else, the town was nicer or I didn’t have to worry about our tent and our stuff. One of the four would be grand.

In saying all this, all is not lost. Once I spilled all this on Courts, it was easier to put into perspective. On the one hand we paid a lot of money to be here, we knew what to expect and it could end up being amazing. On the other, we have 15 weeks here, and the freedom of a bike. Is there any point sitting around in a place I hate for a week? Courts reminded me what I told him in the beginning – we should treat this like a beach holiday with a couple of concerts thrown in.

To combat the town, we’re going to go for a couple of day trips to explore the surrounding areas, like Valencia to the south and maybe Tarragona to the north. The music doesn’t start until 6pm each night and the best artists are around 8.30-9pm so we can have the best of both worlds. I’ve always wanted to be here, so I need to suck it up and make the most of it. I hated London that first night when we saw the hostel for the first time, and I took awhile to shine to Paris. Both places ended up being good, and this will too.

We went grocery shopping and bought yummy Spanish food (I don’t think it helped my mood all the bad food we’ve been eating lately, I paid 2 Euro for a slice of watermelon last night and it was the best 2 Euro I’ve ever spent) and then hired 2 cushioned beach loungers and a little cabana-type umbrella at the beach for 10 Euro for the rest of the day. I slept while Courts swam (and found 10 Euro on the bottom of the ocean!) and at 6pm he finally got me into the water. I swam in the Mediterranean Sea and then had a Chicken Salad for dinner.

Dark clouds loomed in the mountains as we headed back to camp, and at one point lightening struck the ground right by us. It was terrifying and awesome at the same time, everyone around us felt the energy and we’ve never seen anything so bright or heard thunder so loud. I twisted my neck when I jumped from the fright but once we were safely back at camp the experience was kind of awesome in hindsight. The tent and bike were in one piece and we survived day one. One more relax day before the music starts the next.