Queridos lectores, it is with this ¡Hola! that I welcome you to what will be Grace’s final installment of On Location Spanish. With my days numbered here in sunny Valencia, time has certainly flown and it has been a lot of fun. The experience has afforded me the invaluable opportunity to develop my everyday jerga (“slang”) and what’s more is that I’ve learned a thing or two about how Spaniards throw a party. With that I’d like to tell you about what has been going on in Valencia since we last spoke. The event I’m going to write about happened a couple of months ago, but I’ve not had the chance to write about it until now.
Exclusive to Valencia, Las Fallas is a festival held very dearly to the hearts of many natives, which marks the coming of spring. For those of us trying in earnest to conquer the White Whale that is Castilian Spanish, the language aspect – being in the regional valenciano – might be lost on us. Nonetheless, both tourists and natives alike will tell you that the event is an unmissable celebration of light and sound.
Kicking off the celebrations in the last week of February is La Crida, which boasts a lights and fireworks show to set the tone for the weeks to come. If fireworks and la música en directo (“live music”) are to your taste, in addition to Las Torres de Sorrano where La Crida is celebrated, La Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the place to be. Here, amid the installation of gigantic caricature-like sculptures or fallas, La Mascletà is celebrated everyday, covering the city centre in a blanket of smoke from the daily firework display and sending shudders through the walls and windows of buildings for miles around. Coming to a close on the 19th of March with La Cremà, the week’s celebrations are brought to an end with the burning of the satirically flavoured fallas sculptures.
While the magnitude of the cost and community spirit poured into this festival is not to be sneered at, having enjoyed the experience first-hand, my top tip is that only morning people and the fearless need apply. Expect to be woken up by the marching band music and firework-throwing of La Despertà every morning at 8am and don’t be alarmed to see children swarm the streets with firecrackers in hand.
Con pilas cargadas (“with my batteries recharged”) after Fallas celebrations and a short Easter break, I begin the hard slog towards final exams. I won’t ask for much sympathy. If there is one place in this world to study Taxation Law, it’s the beach. Be it on location or on more familiar territory, I wish you all the best in learning Spanish. For now, tengo que irme, adiós.