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Thursday Flakes: Mexico’s Exploding Hammer Festival

You read that right. This festival actually exists.

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I went to an exploding hammer festival last week. Yes you read that right. A little-known festival in San Juan de la Vega near the town of Celaya, Mexico. I went with a friend named Todd and a local guy named Natha who had previously met at each other at the festival.

We hopped into Natha’s car and it took around 30 minutes to get to the village. When we arrived in San Juan de la Vega, we could already hear some of the explosions going off. We walked around town a bit to take some pictures before going to the parade. Time to put on our earplugs.

The parade caught me by a bit off guard. I didn’t expect to see so many explosions there. The parade-goers were sprinkling powder (a mixture and gunpowder and sulphur) onto the ground and then smashing a sledgehammer into the gunpowder to cause an explosion. The smell of explosion was a bit toxic and not something you want to be breathing in a lot. Eventually we stepped away from the parade and headed to the railroad tracks. I have to admit it was giving me a bit of anxiety because the explosions were coming from all directions.

Let’s rewind a bit. The reason behind this festival is to honor local patron saint, San Juanito. He was considered to be the Robin Hood of Mexico (in terms of stealing from the rich and giving in to the poor). During the Mexico Revolution, bandits honored by using exploding hammer by the railroad tracks in order to stop the train so they could rob it of everything. Back to the present day, we did stop to observe some explosions on the railroad tracks at this festival. However, that wasn’t where most of the big explosions were happening. These were taking place on a field outside of town.

Everything was in full swing by the time we arrived at the field. People were gathered around everywhere. An ambulance was there. Police were around. Some were just watching the chaos unfold. Others were taping the little packs of explosives to the sledgehammer. Willing (and crazy) participants then walked to a certain section of the field to raise the sledgehammer above their head and smash it down onto a metal anvil to create a massive (and dangerous) explosion as you can see by the picture above.

As the festival started to wind down, myself a few other tourists got to try it for ourselves. They only attached one or two little packs of explosives to the hammer for us. This was a smart idea considering some debris got stuck in my hand (I should have worn gloves) when I smashed a sledgehammer with two explosives. Other than that mistake, I didn’t have any other issues. I wore eye protection, face mask, long pants although I would bring a long-sleeved shirt next time. Most of the people were attaching five or six or seven explosives to their sledgehammers. Some we were all the necessary protective equipment. Others not so much. Welcome to Mexico!

That was probably the craziest festival I have ever attended. Did I enjoy it? Yes! Would I go back again next year? Probably not. I knew going into this festival that I was going to be something extremely stupid. I’m glad I got to experience it. If you want to see more, you can go to my Instagram page and watch the story highlights from this crazy festival and you can click below to watch my friend Todd’s viral video from this festival a few years ago.

Anyways onto Flakes...

Flakes

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Frost Discusses Spring Season Growth Within the Team | Football | Huskers.com

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Huskers Head to Hawaii for Queen’s Cup | Volleyball | Huskers.com

On Thursday, Nebraska will play No. 3 TCU (9-0) at 2 p.m. CT and UC Davis (3-1) at 6 p.m. CT. The Huskers will play two more matches on Friday - against No. 10 California (5-1) at Noon CT and No. 9 Hawaii (6-3) at 4 p.m. CT.

Travel

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Ukraine’s Cultural Heritage: What Sites Are at Risk Amid the Conflict? | Travel | Lonely Planet

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Travel Advisors Report Mixed Client Reactions on Russia-Ukraine Conflict | Travel | Travel Pulse

“Upscale clients will travel with little fear of visiting NATO countries and members of the European Union,” he said. “In fact, we are seeing far more sold-out sailings and tour departures than one might have anticipated. Independent travel within Europe will, we think, not recover for 24 months.

Avelo Airlines Are Using Disinfection Robots to Clean Planes | Travel | Travel Pulse

The airline announced last week an innovative partnership with Aero HygenX, a company that deploys leading-edge autonomous ultraviolet light (UVC) robots to disinfect its aircraft fleet. Aero HygenX is the pioneer in autonomous UVC disinfection technology for the transportation industry.

Buenos Aires: One of the World’s Street Art Capitals | Travel | Travel Pulse

Street art is highly valued in Argentina, and as such, the laws surrounding street art are fairly relaxed. Artists typically just need permission from the property owners or a building’s residents’ association to paint, providing them with a huge blank canvas. This has attracted artists from around the world and given local artists great opportunities to showcase their works.

Voluntourism Is On the Rise—But What Does It Actually Mean to Give Back on Vacation? | Travel | Conde Nast Traveler

While naturally there is a place for meaningful aid work, the difference between volunteering and ‘voluntouring’ is stark—primarily because, as some believe, volunteering for a short period of time (whether it’s for two days or two weeks) is rarely enough time to do anything beyond boost the traveler’s own sense of purpose.

The Best Hike in Every National Park | Travel | Conde Nast Traveler

All 63 hikes featured here boast the best of the park that houses them, with manageable crowds and a range of difficulty levels; these aren’t just the headline trails of each national park, but the trails that in-the-know hikers beeline to.

Hawaii’s Ultimate Form of Gratitude | Travel | BBC

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Italy’s Rare, Surprisingly Bitter Honey | Travel | BBC

Corbezzolo honey tricks the palate. Instead of the sweetness one would expect, this extremely rare honey, born in the mountains of the Italian island of Sardinia, is surprisingly bitter, with notes of leather, licorice and smoke. Nomadic beekeepers have been setting up beehives in the region to collect this aromatic treat – derived from the white, bell-shaped flowers of the wild strawberry tree – for more than 2,000 years.

The Rest

Inside Mexico’s Exploding Hammer Festival | Lifestyle | The New Zealand Herald

To celebrate Shrove Tuesday each year, the small town of San Juan de la Vega is rocked by explosions and filled with the acrid smell of gunpowder. Shrapnel flies across the cobbled streets, huge plumes of smoke rise above the church, and the ground continually shakes with fierce vibrations. This isn’t a war zone. This is the Fiesta de los Martillos Explosivos, a tradition celebrating the start of Lent and the mysterious local patron saint, San Juanito.

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Endurance: Shackleton’s Lost Ship is Found in the Antarctic | Science | BBC

The Endurance, the lost vessel of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, was found at the weekend at the bottom of the Weddell Sea. The ship was crushed by sea-ice and sank in 1915, forcing Shackleton and his men to make an astonishing escape on foot and in small boats. Video of the remains show Endurance to be in remarkable condition.

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