Las Bolas de Fuego – Nejapa, El Salvador
WE CAN’T HELP BUT NOTICE THAT TAKING PART IN THIS FESTIVAL LOOKS DECIDEDLY DANGEROUS.
There are some local festivities that we recommend you observe from a safe distance; if the balls of fire shooting back and forth, inches from participants’ faces, hadn’t already tipped you off, let us say – keep back, right back.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO TELL US TWICE.
What looks like an out-of-control street fight to the uninitiated is actually an established tradition for the people of Nejapa. In 1922 the town was threatened by the eruption of a nearby volcano, and as the volcano emitted flaming rocks, the townspeople interpreted it as their patron saint Jeronimo fighting the devil to save their homes. As a gesture of gratitude, the battle is now recreated in the streets each year with rival groups (usually exclusively young men) facing off and throwing fire at one another.
THAT’S CERTAINLY AN INTERESTING WAY TO SAY THANKS.
Despite the obvious health hazards there are surprisingly few injuries each year. That said, the sidelines are still the best place to be while the flames are going down.