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.
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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