Walking down the avenue on the first of March was like walking in a different València. The city has come alive with the turn of the month, bringing with it the colours, party atmosphere and vividness of the world’s best party (Carnaval eat your heart out). The streets once again smell of pólvora (gunpowder) and are filled with the noises of the firecrackers children as young as 5 are throwing around, the sky is filled with the Senyera (Valencian flag) and the centre of the city shakes every day at 14:00 to the mascletà! Finally, after almost a year of waiting, JA ESTEM EN FALLES! (We are now in Fallas!)
Also finally, this week Emily visited, and, having not seen her since June we made the most of this opportunity to show her that València is in fact the greatest city in the whole entire world and not “boring” like she`s spent every day of our university education telling me… I’m not sure if we succeeded but it’s safe to say that she has now seen everything possible to see in Valencia!
Then it was time to go back to Laura’s town for the Cabalgata del ninot, a street parade that saw each Falla parade around the town in disguise and we won 4 of the 7 prizes possible, including the best disguise, menos mal because that disguise took hours and hours to create…
Then it was time for the first macletà of this years fallas and the cridà, which is essentially the call to party, where the Fallera major and the Fallera major infantil, basically the queens of the city this month, shout out the mythical words “JA ESTEM EN FALLES” and from that moment on… March has flown by, blurring from mascletà to mascletà, the whole month accompanied by the noise of firecrackers exploding in the streets and txarangas (street bands that accompany each comision fallera. I started writing this post on the first, and it is now the 14th, one day before the official plantà (The day that all of the wood and papier-maché sculptures need to be finalised) and I haven’t been able to finish this post until now!
The weekend after the cridà and the cabalgata we went to Cuenca! This was my Christmas present from Laura and her family and wow it’s a pretty city, if a little (a lot) hilly! Over the weekend we walked over 30km, and pretty much all of that was up 45º hills! So that’s my exercise quota hit for the year (millenium).
Then it was back to València and time to keep the fallas party going! Last weekend Jess and Charlotte, my two fellow sotoners-in-valencia came to see their first mascletà, and, although I laughed a lot at your faces during, they did remind me of my first ever mascletà over three years ago, the mixture of awe and absolute terror! It’s hard to explain what you feel during a mascletà, especially in one of the better ones, because you just get so caught up in the noise and feeling! The end is so powerful that you can’t distinguish the individual firecrackers from others and you just have to give yourself over to the spectacle and feel each explosion reverberate inside you. It’s just amazing!
This week it’s finally time for the main event and the city is full of huge papier-maché and wooden sculptures. And when I say huge… the tallest is over 40m tall! And when I say that the city is full… theres over 800 sculptures in València city alone! And every time I find my “favourite”, I turn the corner of another street and find a new favourite. The work that goes into these sculptures throughout the year is incredible, and so obvious when you see the (near) final results. Oh and also, I bought firecrackers, so now I can join in the fun! 284 firecrackers for 6.50€ seemed like a steal to me so now I am scaring the living daylights out of my neighbours… Oh well, firecrackering is covered in the insurance Southampton made us take out. And now… I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking.