Sunday, March 20, 2011

Never Lived in a War Zone (Fallas Week)

...but if I had to guess, I would say that Fallas week here in Valencia is very similar to what living in a war zone is like.

For those of you that don't know, Fallas is a week-long celebration/holiday of the Valencia region. It actually goes on for longer than that, and people actually prepare for it for the whole year, but there is one key week in March where the whole city grinds to a halt and stops functioning. It culminates on March 19th, when everything ends.

During that week, stores operate under different hours, roads are closed, public transportation barely works, trash accumulates in the street, and there's people literally everywhere. And that's without even mentioning the fireworks. It gets so bad that some long-time residents just up and leave to another city during that week.

You can hear the fireworks throughout the whole day. There are organized ones every day at 2 PM for almost a whole month, and the week before, there's an extra set at 1 AM (yes, AM) every night. And the people participate too. It's nigh-impossible to go to any of the local parks without running into a group of kids throwing fire crackers, or walking down the street without hearing explosions in the distance. At night, sleeping can become a real challenge, with loud booms echoing in the distance. We are actually pretty lucky because we don't live close to a Casal Fallero, which is where people concentrate to celebrate. Around those, the parties and fireworks usually last through the whole night, and sleeping soundly would not be an option at all. 

Despite how horrible I make it sound, it can be entertaining. On Friday, me and my wife went to see the monuments that people build for this celebration. They are wonderful and humonguous sculptures (photos coming soon) that are peppered throughout the city. You just have to be patient if you want to, you know, go outside at all during Fallas week.

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