Never in my life have I seen so many LITTLE KIDS running around UNSUPERVISED with fireworks and matches. OK, sometimes there was an adult present, but they were just there to re-light fuses with a cigarette if the little ones ran into trouble.
Every year the beautiful Spanish city of Valencia transforms from a medieval gem of twisting streets into a seething, exploding firepit, with INCREDIBLE fireworks (official & street level), along with giant whimsical sculptures in the streets which are later BURNED to the ground in close proximity to houses, electric supply wires, and treetops.
And they feed this with giant pans of paella cooked in the streets. It is wild!
Las Fallas is a Catholic holiday, but we never figured out exactly how. We did see the giant figure of the Virgen in the main square.
She started out a bit barren, but by the end of the week was completely decked out in flowers, (you could smell them across the square!), all hand-delivered by local Valencian@s who had carried them on foot across the whole city decked out in medieval get-up and very uncomfy-looking shoes.
Each group had their own marching band. But where do the public burnings fit in…?
The “Fallas?? are the giant sculptures they work on all year, just to BURN them down in a storm of FIREWORKS and GASOLINE on the night of March 19. They range from a few feet tall to several stories. They are usually ironic, and have little placards explaining the joke. Too bad we couldn’t read them in Valenciano, a northeastern dialect of Spanish.
We also got to hang out with some Florida friends – Jessica Vaughn + Nilesh, and Mz Zoe + Txema. BIG THANKS to Txema for the use of his flat for a few more days after they went back to work! It was centrally located in the old part of town, which means there was a “quema?? – or street burning – a block away, AND we got to appreciate the 8am “despierta?? (alarm clock) – when lunatic Valencianos roam the streets with a marching band, dropping enormous bangers (fireworks) as they go. I miss you guys! XXXOOOXXXOOO
Jess, Nilesh, and I (Jessica) took a side trip to visit the Aquarium, located in the Ciudad de las Ciencias, a field of buildings that look like spaceships from the movie Alien. It was COOL, except for the seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses – they were in tight quarters and grunted that they would really rather be out at sea. But the starfish really didn’t give a crap.
Andrew finally got me out to a bullfight, or Corrido de Torros. Forget the romantic visions of a Man, a Bull, and the Spanish Sun… It’s 6 or 8 guys who taunt and tease the bull until it’s all tuckered out, and a 2 guys on armoured horses who stabs the bull really deep in the shoulders with a sharp pole. THEN the Matador AKA Mr Fancy-Pants finishes the bull off, sometimes quick and clean, other times messy, long and drawn-out, with the bull screaming. I didn’t like it so much. What’s so wrong with a quick, virtually painless death for food animals?
ANDREW SEZ: if the pictures haven’t done it for you, click here for a MOVIE I made (7 OR 8 MINUTES LONG) It features a bullfight, day and night time fireworks, a chaotic episode where people were throwing fireworks at police, and of course, the burning of some fallas. Enjoy and remember not to play with fire…unless everybody else is.