Monthly Archives: March 2010

done and done.

Tonight is a night of cobalt-blue velvet sky, as are many in Valencia, with a warm spring breeze hanging in the air, making it possible to leave the house wrapped just in a light sweater.  The streets are dirty but the city is sweet with the promise of spring, and the summer that follows.

Fallas ended 24 hours ago.

The visits made by I. and S. were absolutely uplifting, and absolutely necessary.  The presence of two of my favorite people in what is likely my favorite place was a surreal event, considering the fact that the three of us have not been in a room together since CH graduation 2008.  I. arrived from Paris a day late due to a canceled flight, and we spent the night doing what we here call a “low-key barhop,” allowing me to introduce her to some of my favorite tapas and copas that can be found in the city.  The next day S. arrived from Barcelona where she had spent the previous week of her two-week spring break, lovesick for a Dutch fellow-hostel guest that she had encountered there, with stories of discotecas and languid mornings after.  I. returned au nord on Sunday, leaving me and S. to conquer the week-long fiesta that awaited us.

Day 2: la mascletà

In stark contrast to S.’s wild ride in Barcelona, our days started as early as 11am, so as to get in some tourism/city wandering before the hoards of people attending the daily mascletà descended upon the city, making it impossible to move, eat, etc.  One morning was spent at the Mercado Central, selecting the freshest and best items for an afternoon picnic in the once-river-now-park (appropriately called el Río) before heading to the famous mascletà (see previous post), where the ground shook and between sips of red wine and shading our eyes from the glaring sun we both had moments of realization that we were in Spain, experiencing this completely foreign thing, sharing it, knowing that we’d always have that between us.

Other days consisted of more park lounging, photo shoots, “day drankin'” and typical Fallas activities: late night firework shows that blow McIntire’s 4th of July out of the park (no pun intended), semi-spontaneous street concerts (M. and his musician friends played a 2.5 hour samba/brasileña/salsa/reggae set outside of one of my favorite bars tucked away in the old city), lots of buñuelo consumption, and taking in the marathon parades (two parades, each lasting seven hours) of all the falleros (those who pay and participate in all the Fallas activites; basically, the members of the clubs that make this fiesta possible) dressed to the nines in their traditional gowns and suits, S. and I sitting so close we could touch these people, commenting on our favorite dresses and favorite characters in boisterous English.

And now all that’s left is filthy streets lined with leaky porta-potties, firecracker wrappers and beer cans, the pictures we took that make me so happy, and a few extra pounds from all the ridiculous food items that entered my body over the past week (at least there was no headcheese).  Also remaining, ever-present and looming over me, is what’s yet to come: I finally purchased return tickets, and will officially be back in the States on May 12th.  The prospect is horrifying, yet comforting; Daddy says he’s already bought me a coming home present, and the joy in Mom’s voice when we remember this fact is so palpable, even from the other end of the Skype line, that I know there’s some good in it; after all, I do miss home a little.  And in some two to three weeks K. and I find out about these English teaching jobs that we applied for, which would allow us to come back next year and stay just a little bit longer, hopefully leading us to other jobs, and in my case, to fulfilling that dream of living (I mean really living) and starting a life in Europe.

So all in all, Fallas was just as incredible as promised.  Valencia has yet to let me down.

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Filed under schmoozing, spring semester, Valencia

¡en falles, no falles!

It’s officially fallas season here in Valencia.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city flourish in the way that V-town is currently: beautiful blue skies (lies), churro stands popping up on every street corner, mascletà every afternoon in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (basically, a firecracker show that draws an enormous crowd, leaving you dazed and deaf), colorful lights lining the side streets and alleys proclaming which casal that turf belongs to (the one outside school, for example, is la Bicicleta, and during the second half of my Quijote class on Monday we were entertained by the struggle that was ocurring right outside the classroom window to mount said lights).  It has breathed new life into the city as it awakes from the “harsh” winter (it rained a lot).  Downtown’s colorful buildings are brighter, fountains are spouting water once again, people are taking to the streets for their almuerzos or late-night botellón.  It reminds me of why I love this city.

it's explosive.

So to kick off fallas business, P. and I ventured to the first official event, the Cridà, which took place on Sunday, the last day of February.  We followed the enormous throngs of falleros (those who build and fund the fallas) to the Torres de Serrano, one of the two remaining portions of the walls that once surrounded Valencia.  From the balcony of the towers, the fallera mayor and the fallera menor (basically, “Miss” and “Little Miss Valencia”), joined by the mayor and various other head-honchos, peered down upon a seething crowd, undertaking the task of giving Miss Valencia the keys to the city for the week.  P. and I, stuck behind an ancient magnolia tree, sipping our lukewarm Amstel’s, linked arms and let ourselves be llevar-ed por la corriente (for those of you not fluent in Spanglish yet: “we went with the flow”), cheering with the crowd (which we deduced ocurred any time the word les falles was mentioned) and humming along to Valencia’s anthem.  The ceremony came to a close with the traditional words being shouted by the fallera mayor: “¡¡senyor pirotècnic, pot escomençar la mascletà!!” (which in English translates lamely to “Mr. Pyrotechnician, you may now begin the firecrackers!”.  Just doesn’t have the same ring to it), followed by the most bitchin’ fireworks display I’ve ever seen.  Valencia is known for its pyrotechnics, and I now know why; just when you thought you were at the grand finale, that they could do no more, that you had seen the coolest they had to offer, it got even better: fireworks that dotted the entire sky, beneath which stood us two americanas, oo-ing and ah-ing and “¡anda!”-ing.  I returned home with a sore neck and a smile.

And with the coming of Fallas comes the coming of visitors.  Another reason for excitement: I. comes in from Paris to escape the grey the first weekend prior to fallas-fest; S. concludes her grand tour (glottal French accent implied) of Spain here, staying for the entire week of debauchery and fire; and K. rolls in on a train from Barcelona for the last weekend of the event.  It’s thrilling to know I’m just a week away from seeing some long-lost loves, and mind boggling to think that the world can be so small, even on this side of the Atlantic.

As for the rest of things, well, just ask my Dad.

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looking for more info and updates about Fallas? click here!

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Filed under schmoozing, spring semester, travel, Valencia