Today was the last day of Fallas, and we were preparing for the big finale. Nit de Foc is Night of Fire in Valenciano
. They were selling shirts that gave a different interpretation of the word "Foc."
After the Brazilian steel drum band, Tai and I peeled off to go see the fire parade. This involved worship of the devil mostly. Lots of men with all kinds of sparking toys got to run around and create havoc. There were strange looking elementals on stilts, and guys with horns that ran around with sparklers. Generally, a machine in the middle would spurt fire in support of a bunch of guys that would light up, run around near the crowd, and then return for a refill. The most interesting one was a bicycle that shot fire out the back like a rocket as he pedaled around. Also the Chinese dragons that were carried around, burning, by several men. In the end there was a display of firewords around the triumphal arch in the center of the plaza. It was...different.
The only thing remaining was to burn the Fallas. It's a really strange concept- to spend all year building a piece of art to burn it down after 4 days. It seems crazy really until you think about how special it makes the fallas, and how they can change every year to reflect their creators.
The schedule was to first burn the children's fallas all over the city
. Tai, Anna, Chantal, and the two German girls had met up for this. We chose to remain near the main square, and chose a children's fallas with a man and the sun. Slightly before 10:30, the women and men of the falla gathered around for pictures and then cleared the area. The women were crying. At 10:30, a farewell tribute of fireworks was set off to signal the beginning of the end. It gave me goosebumps to watch these fireworks arching towards the sky all over the city. One last goodbye. Then a string of fireworks was lit, and like lightning the string exploded around the falla, causing it to burst into flames. At first the fires were small and contained, but after a pause the entire thing was suddenly engulfed in flames, and the heat was so intense we had to step back. In a few minutes the statue was reduced to a pile of ashes.
After the children's fallas they burned the winners of the various children's fallas contests the next half hour. We decided to shoot for a burning of one of the special fallas and then head to the main square for the final burning.
We were invited up by Alina's German friend. He had an apartment that looked out over one of the large fallas, so we climbed out onto his balcony for a bird's eye view of the proceedings
. Since this was a bigger undertaking, they were a little late. There were at least two firetrucks on the scene. Since it was in a plaza surrounded by apartment buildings (including the one we were in), large screens were pulled down to protect the fronts of the buildings. These screens were then hosed down by the firemen. Finally, once all the ceremonies had been taken care of, those sad fireworks once again started exploding all over the city. Ours did not quite clear the buildings, and the guys of the rooftop balcony across the way had to duck as the explosions were dangerously close to them. Then a chain reaction was set off, and after some smoking, the whole thing went up in flames. A giant wave of smoke and ash threatened to engulf us, but we were just clear. We all watched silently until nothing remained but some stray supports and a pile of ash, before joining the long line of people streaming towards the main plaza.
12:30 was the final burning of the falla in the main square. Everyone and their mom was there, but somehow we managed to wedge ourselves behind a truck and get a pretty good view. There was a true display of fireworks here, and everyone cheered as sychronized explosions ripped into the giant fallas. Another cheer arose as the structure finally collapsed in on itself, signalling the end of one very big party. We turned for home.
Fallas was over.
I never thought that I would end up following a Brazilian steel drum band through the streets of Valencia. I met Tai and Alina to see this band play. It was quite an interesting experience. They had gathered a small crowd to here them play the first couple of songs. They were performing on top of a big flatbed truck. Then, without warning, the truck started driving off. The crowd followed, Pied-piper-like, through the streets. Occasionally the truck would stop for a little while, then continue on. They would provide directions from the truck for certain moves to perform. Kids threw candy into the crowds. It was kind of fun.