Valencia on Fire

I've washed the smoke from my hair, thrown my smoke-filled clothes in the wash and wiped the dust and ash from my shoes. With these tangible evidences gone, it is hard to believe that it was all real.

Yesterday morning at 8 a.m., Eric and I boarded a charter bus, along with eight of our exchange student friends and a busload of strangers, to make the four hour voyage to Valencia, Spain, for the annual celebration of the Fallas.

When we finally got to the city we hurried off the bus to walk, single-file, among the hordes of people in Valencia to see what we could of the giant papier-mache sculptures (las fallas), built over the previous year with some estimated at as much as $75,000, before each and every one of them was burned to the ground. We became teenagers again, lighting firecrackers in the streets and eating churros fresh out of the hot oil, filled with the energy and excitement of the impending nonsensical destruction.

By the time the sun set, the city was pulsing. The fallas were set ablaze in three stages, each getting progressively more grand in scale and artistry, while the bomberos (firefighters) looked on, hoses ready. One by one the creators of each falla, dressed in typical Valencian costume, would ignite the lovely monuments, each time fascinating us just as much as the one before. Fireworks, crowds and blazing statues filled Valencia for three hours in the culmination of the annual week-long festival.

With the fallas cremated and our ears ringing, we piled back on the bus, now chilled from the freezing Mediterranean wind that we hadn't noticed while the fires were burning, to ride back in silent exhaustion back to Barcelona.

So unreplicatable. So fantastical. So childlike. So grand.

**To see more of my photos of the Fallas, visit Barcelona Days.


mamasteph said...

Sweet! You must be having such a good time! What great cultural experiences. Keep taking lots of pictures and you can tell us even more details when you get back! Love you guys!

napalmbrain said...

you're jealous?!?

Tom Knutson said...

I've been following your adventures in Spain. Keep a bloggin'......it's graet!! Love the short hair too!