The final four days of Las Fallas were everything I had been told they’d be. The population of Valencia swelled to more than double, there were non-stop parades and firecrackers going off, the “falleras” and “falleros” were everywhere in their amazing costumes, people were cooking paella in the streets, and giant ninots or puppets were around every corner. In my neighborhood, there were two days of parades that were 10 hours long! The falleras and falleros, picked by their communities, filed past my apartment carrying flowers that they would deposit on a gigantic wooden structure of Mary in the Plaza de la Virgen. Every morning for four days a series of firecrackers were lit right outside the window at 8 a.m.—a little disconcerting, to say the least. Valencians love their firecrackers…even small children could be seen throwing “poppers” everywhere. Along with the students, my son Jordan, his girlfriend Kelsey, and several friends arrived in town just in time to see the show.
The holiday climaxed Monday night. We attended the “Parada de Mora,” parade of the Moors, in which various groups dressed in Moorish costumes marched by, accompanied by camels, horses, and wonderful North African and Middle Eastern music…fantastic. Finally, at midnight, each of the fallas or ninots were burned while crowds cheered…literally, the city was on fire. From my balcony, I could see the figure of Elvis go up in flames.
I must say, I’m glad to have the “usual” Valencia back, but it was an amazing experience. At 2 am, I went to see the majority of my students off as they got on a bus for Madrid. Four of them will continue to travel for a while, but the rest should be home in Washington by now. I will be here for another 10 days, with some side trips to Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo.