Fuego

2 Apr

Fuego!  Fire!  Never before have I seen a bigger fire!  Never before have I seen so many fires. ..It was soo amazing.  Wait what? How can damaging fire be amazing?  Only at one place:  Valencia during Las Fallas. 

Las Fallas is a festival in which each neighborhood in this Spanish city builds an incredible 5 or 6 story tall paper mache masterpiece often depicting a fairly tale, a well-known character, or something political.  In the city there are over 400 of these creations which are called Fallas.  Artists spend an entire year building these beautiful creations and the neighborhoods pull together to raise enough money to build them year after year.  During the celebration they are displayed in plazas throughout the city.   You can see exactly how amazing some of these were in my pictures.   This falla is depicting the famous fairy tales: Little Red Ridinghood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Alice in Wonderland.  The picture seems amazing doesn’t it?  However, it doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. The detail and precision is unreal.  Imagine how stunning it was for me to come across one of these beautiful creations every block!  I was in awe…so what does this have to do with fire?  Well, even though the beauty of the Fallas are enough to take your breath away, the real magic of this festival occurs at midnight on the final night:  La crema (the  cremation).  What I am about to tell you is going to blow your mind.  At midnight, in a big celebration all 400 Fallas are literally exploded into fire, creating the biggest bon-fire one could ever imagine. This is a very emotional event as you can imagine, but surprisingly people are cheering in joy.  It is such a moment of pride for the neighbor hood to watch this awesome creation go up in flames.  This tradition was said to have started back in medieval times when carpenters would burn their scaffolding that held their candles in the dark days of winter.  One year they decided to dress these scaffolds as people and then burn them(kind of morbid, right?) It then has evolved into this huge celebration Valencia celebrates every year.   How weird!  It is hard to appreciate this strange festival but is such an important part of the Spanish culture. 

 This was an experience I will never forget.  It was such an interesting spectacle but it really got interesting when we were waiting for the fairy tale Falla to be lit.  We were thrilled that we were as close as the fire fighters would let us be.  Finally, after waiting for almost an hour, they finally let the explosion go.  However, at exactly the same time an unexpected downpour started.  Being in the front row we got showered in ashes and rain which came down like mud.  Needless to say my bright yellow coat is now a dingy yellow grey color.  Even though I ruined my coat and had to ride back to Madrid freezing and wet, it was 100 percent worth it!

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