Farewell To Fallas

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Walking around yesterday it looked as if Fallas has never happened.  All the temporary stands that were selling beer and/or food have been shuttered.  All the tents that housed the various casals were disassembled and picked up early Wednesday morning.  All the spotlights that focused on the fallas are gone.  All the hanging illuminated signs that stretched from the Central Market to Xátiva have been taken down.  The remains of the fallas have been covered with sand and the next significant rainfall will remove all those traces.  All the weekend visitors have returned to their respective homes and Valencia has returned to its normal day-to-day activities.

On Wednesday it was obvious that many of the visitors who flooded the city had gone back home.  Our street was experiencing the normal amount of foot traffic and it was easy to get around the city.  We spent most of the day taking life easy in preparation for what was to be a late night.  We left the house around 11:00 and the first falla we saw go up in flames was the one in the Plaza de la Merced.  The process is the same for all fallas.  Holes are cut into all the figures that are part and parcel of the falla.  Gasoline will be poured in these cutouts as well as on the falla itself.  Firecrackers are strung around the falla and these will be set off and the last of the string will set off the flames that will bring down the structure.

No falla may be burned without the presence of the fire department.  The firemen hose down the street and sidewalk that surround the falla and then, if the falla is close to any structure, they will hose down the structure so that a stray burning ember will not set fire to that structure.  They also stand at the ready to extinguish the falla if there is some sort of complication.

The next falla we saw go up in flames was the one at the side entrance of the Central Market.  After that one went up in flame, we headed towards the falla the stood in front of the Central Market.  I waited about thirty minutes and the Fire Department hadn’t shown up.  I headed back home to warm up a bit and Susan continued on.  We met up again at 1:30 outside of our building and at around 2:30, with everything in place, the falla went up in flames.  When we walked back into our apartment, there was a noticeable odor of smoke. The air purifier in the bedroom and the closed bedroom door eliminated every trace of odor in the room so getting to sleep was not a problem.  Wednesday morning we opened all the windows and in about two hours the house was sufficiently aired out.

Last year with my knee I really did not experience fallas.  This year was decidedly different. I enjoyed the sights and sounds, but not the huge crowds.  We found a number of ways to avoid the crowds who flocked to see the fallas and the light shows.  Additionally, we just stayed away from the mascletás because the crowds were enormous.  Now that we are seasoned veterans, we will better plan our attack for next year.

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