If I’m completely honest, I’m rather impartial to fireworks. Mostly because a) I’m not a child and b) the vast majority of fireworks shows I’ve seen as an adult have never terribly impressed me. Sydney New Year fireworks being the one notable exception. Lets face it, after the first three or four, they all start to look a bit the same and after 10 minutes of looking skywards you end up with a sore neck. So a fireworks show would have to be something special for me to even mention it.
The Christmas Eve fireworks display in Antigua, Guatemala, was exactly that. A and I arrived the day before and had heard that the locals liked to usher in Christmas in style. We were told there would be celebrations and fireworks at midnight, but nobody really told us much more than that.
So late that night we perched ourselves on the roof of our hostel, looking out over the city, warming our hands over a fire burning in a 40 gallon drum and sipping hot chocolate laced with a generous dash of crema de menthe. As we waited for the show to start, I admit I was sceptical.
A few early starters began to set their fireworks off before midnight, but once the clock struck twelve, the show began in earnest.
The sky lit up with pinks and greens and golds as hundreds and hundreds of fireworks were launched from rooftops all over the city. Crackles and bangs and booms rang out from near and far, some so loud and low that they set off car alarms in the streets. Up on the roof we were able to turn a full 360 degrees and see fireworks in every direction – some as far away as the hill-side suburbs on the outskirts of town, others as close as the house across the street. Soon the show was even closer when some others staying at the hostel launched our own. For more than half an hour glittering fireworks exploded and dazzled one after another after another after another. We laughed, we pointed, we cheered, we ooh and we aaahed and we ducked when one stray firework came closer to our lookout than we would have liked.
After the celebrations had subsided, we headed downstairs to bed, ears ringing loudly and utterly reeking of smoke and sulfur. But we also went to bed with huge smiles on our faces. Santa didn’t really need to bring me a present after that.