Saturday, August 07, 2010

74th International Descent of the Sella

Today has been the 74th International Descent of the river Sella from Arriondas to Ribadesella. Think Oxford and Cambridge boat race with canoes (over 900 of them), rapids, crowds well into 100,000's, TV crews, Live music and sound stages, 1000's of bottles of cider, outside urinals, camping, litter, young people sleeping in cars, on the streets, in the gutter and on the beach.......get the picture?
74th International Descent 
This long-standing event draws huge volumes of visitors for the weekend, many of whom are young and in a party mood. The canoe descent is secondary for some (well most of the under 25s)  but an important event in terms of the economy and employment.

We walked into town from here as the roads are far too congested with foot traffic, unsuspecting tourists in cars and police and security patrols. About 1 km from town the fields become camp sites and rubbish bins. The roadside becomes a car park and village fountains become wash rooms.

Despite the large numbers of young, predominantly worse for wear teenagers and young people, there is never sign of trouble or aggression. Most happy with the merriment of a cider induced stupor and over-priced greasy snacks.

The highlights of the descent are the passenger train that brings spectators from the start to the finish - decked out with paddles and greenery, much quieter this year I might add, the winning K2 canoeists as they head for the line after a 22km descent - pumped up and filled with adrenaline, and the hoards of tourists who are generally having a great time, drinking in the outside bars, browsing the many exotic market stalls and merry making their way through the heat of the day.

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