Currently: Avoiding homework by working on my blog...
Fallas…. Hmmm where to begin. This might have been one of the craziest phenomenon I have ever experienced.
Basically, every neighborhood in Valencia has an organized group that works for the entire year to build a huge structure which is then burned down in mid-March. The structures are made up of what’s called ninots, big and small, which are essentially figures of people, animals, monsters, you name it. And some of these things are HUGE. Seriously. Like bigger than the buildings that surround them. They’re almost mystical.
And then they just burn… the streets are cleaned and the groups start working on next year’s Falla. It completely reminds me of the Buddhist tradition of sand mandalas, where they spend weeks creating amazing intricate pictures out of colored sand, then they just brush it all up and wash it away. The practice symbolizes the brief existence of material things.
In addition to the structures, the holiday is all about fireworks, everywhere, all the time. We had been warned about the fireworks during Fallas, but I still don’t think we were prepared for the mayhem of it all. Beginning around the last week of February, we began to hear traces of fireworks, mostly small ones. But as we got closer and closer to Fallas, the fireworks got louder and louder, and more frequent until it was almost a constant stream of fireworks. Some of these fireworks sounded like bombs. Actually, many of these fireworks sounded like bombs. And I’m really not exaggerating. Every time one of these larger fireworks would go off nearby, I would jump out of my seat and my heart would be racing. And this would happen while I was sitting on the couch in my apartment.
My friend, Hailee, visited right in the midst of it all, and I had to warn her before we exited the train station, that if she heard one of these bomb-sound-alikes that she didn’t need to duck and cover.
Along with the fireworks beginning to become more and more frequent, the streets were beginning to become more and more crowded with food trucks, tiki bars, and buñuelo stands. Buñuelos are a traditional Valencian holiday treat. Similar to Churros being native to Madrid. I would describe buñuelos as being like a funnel cake in the shape of a donut. So delicious..
Around the beginning of March, we went to a museum where each Falla group had submitted a ninot for the annual competition, and we were to vote on the one we liked the best. (And I believe that this ninot is saved from being burned.. but don’t quote me on that.) There were hundreds of ninots to look through, big and small, depending on the amount of money put into it by each Falla. I had settled on a Salvador Dali inspired ninot to cast my vote on.
Along with this competition, judges went around towards the very end of the festival and judged each of the structures in the neighborhood. It just so happens that the Falla right around the corner from my apartment got first place this year! And rightfully so…
So on Sunday evening, we went around to the top eight Fallas, voted best by the judges the day earlier.
The next night at 12am, the burning of the structures began. There happened to be a small Falla in the street right outside my apartment. (Small as in probably 30 feet tall.) So at midnight, we posted up on our terrace to watch.
They began by tying a string of fireworks around the entire structure. They then went around it drenching the entire structure in gas. We had been under the impression that there would be firemen all over the city while the structures were being lit on fire, but there were none to be seen on our street.. which was slightly concerning.
First, the fireworks went off, shooting up just above the structure before exploding. Then, the entire structure started to go up in flames, producing this wall of black smoke that went down the street and entered into our apartment through our open terrace doors. That may not have been the smartest thing to do because we spent the next morning wiping down all of our shelves of the soot that had accumulated during the burning.
Once the flame had died down, we hurried out of our apartment and down the street to see the number one Falla burn. This one was almost as tall as the buildings and very close to them. The fireworks on this one put the one on our street to shame. As soon as the flames started to build, firemen began hosing them away from the nearby apartment buildings. It was one of the spectacular things I’ve ever seen.
And the next day the streets were cleaned, the food trucks were gone, and there was no trace of Fallas.
It really amazes me that things like this go on around the world, and I wouldn’t have ever known about it unless I moved here. It makes me wonder what other crazy things are happening that we know nothing about.
As for me, I’ll be pushing through the last few months of my EP project. I'm not going to lie, this semester has been difficult. A different kind of difficult than I've experienced before. Putting the EP together has been a bit of a roller coaster. Some days I feel like I can't do anything right and other days it all comes together perfectly.
Lately, I've had to focus on the nitty gritty details of the project which isn't the fun part of making music. And with only a few months left, I'm really kicking it into high gear. I'm so ready to take a step back and see the project in it's entirety. Stay on the lookout for information about the release!
I just got back from Italy, and I really want to write a blog post about it. I also want to write about my road trip around Spain and my trip to Scotland back in the fall. Oh yeah, and about my crazy summer. I might be the worst blogger in the world.
So much to write about, so little time.