Monday, March 21, 2011

A Roller Coaster of Emotion!

             This may seem an odd title for a trip to Valencia, Spain for their annual festival Fallas, but it certainly is well deserving for the trip we had this past weekend. Cait, Diane, Amy, Sadie, Sean, Chris, and I headed down to Valencia this past weekend to partake in the last night of their big festival Fallas. I won’t go into the history or what all happens in Fallas because I am still tired from the weekend, so if need be Google it! But in a nutshell, Fallas is a big festival where they build wooden/paper mache figures and burn them all on the last night. Sadly when I studied in Valencia 4 years ago I wasn’t able to go to this festival because it is always in March. Ever since I had been to Valencia the first time, going to Fallas has been on my list of things to do at some point in my life. And I certainly accomplished that this weekend!
            We took a bus down to Valencia on Friday night and got into the city at 5:30 am after a cramped, zero sleeping, miserable bus ride. We stopped in the bus station café for some coffee to start the day off right. We headed to the beach around 8 am and relaxed there for a bit. On our way to the beach we saw a bunch of the fallas and heard many petardos (firecrackers). After taking a nice nap on the beach I, of course, woke up with an awesome sunburn on my face due to the fact that I was wearing sunglasses during my entire nap! We headed back into the center of the city to get some paella for lunch and see one of the mascletas (one of the events in the ayuntamiento where they set off a bunch of fireworks). The center of the city was insane and completely packed with people. After “viewing” the mascleta we met up with my friend from Sevilla who now lives in Valencia. We all decided we needed a break from the craziness in the center of the city so walked along the river and in the park to the Ciudad de les Artes y Ciencias, one of the famous areas in Valencia. After getting yet another café con leche we headed back into the center for some food and to start drinking.  We were able to see the fire parade that took place to start the last night of the festivities. The Spaniards in general are pyromaniacs, however the Valencianos are the worst! Firecrackers were being thrown into the crowd, all while little children squealed with excitement. After almost being burned by the parade we decided to wait in the ayuntamiento for the burning of the big falla. Long story short, we waited for almost 6 hours, got pushed and shoved around too many times to count, people got in fights all around us while the police did nothing. Luckily the actual event of the fireworks show and burning of the big falla made up for the miserableness of waiting for it to occur. After the burning, it was complete and total chaos and I was actually quite nervous for a bit of time that something bad was going to happen or someone was going to get hurt, but luckily that didn’t happen. After the big show we walked around the city for a while more until we made the trek to the bus station around 7 am. Our bus didn’t leave until 11 am, so we hung out at the bus station with the rest of the Fallas partygoers who also didn’t have a place to stay. Note to self: always, always, always get a place to stay when traveling. It is not as exciting as it sounds to be homeless for 48 hours! After another 6 hour bus ride we finally made it back home and I fell asleep at 7 pm and slept for the next 15 hours to make up for lack of sleep for the past 48. All in all it was a crazy and intense weekend and something that I am thrilled to say I have witnessed, although if it happens again I will find a place to stay!

La mascleta

Plaza del Virgen

One of the Fallas!

Apocalypse or fireworks for Fallas?

The big falla that got burned!

Friday, March 11, 2011

“I’ll Be Baaaack!!”

            Yes thank you Arnold for putting it so eloquently. And yes you read that correctly, I will be back…. back to Spain that is! Yesterday I accepted my renewal position to stay here in Logrono another year teaching English with my same program. I am going to try and teach high school next year, as well as stay with one of my elementary schools. I am beyond excited to be given this opportunity again and live out my dream of living and working in Spain. This year has been so wonderful and I knew that it was something that I couldn’t pass up. So that just means that now everyone has a whole extra year to start saving their pennies and planning their trip to come visit me in the wine region of Spain!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Robin Hood Men In Tights

            This past weekend was Carnival here in Spain, which is their version of Mardi Gras. I had never been in Spain to experience Carnival before, so I was very excited to partake in this festival, and it certainly didn’t let me down! Through a random twist of fate (and knowing people haha), Cait, Diane, and I ended up marching in the Carnival parade here in Logrono with Intermon Oxfam. The parade was on Saturday and it seemed to be extremely popular. The theme for our group was Robin Hood, so we got to spend the evening and night dressed as Robin Hood, and man did we look awesome! I have never been in a parade so was quite thrilled about that opportunity and it was hysterical. We waited around with the rest of the groups while they got everyone organized and I was handed a sign with our group name on it and thought nothing of it. When we were getting ready to line up, I was informed that since I had the sign with our name on it, I would be walking first and had to stay a full 10 meters in front of everyone else! Am I surprised this happened to me? Not one bit! I don’t know whether I should feel honored that since I was the only blonde in the group I was picked to lead the way, or if I should feel offended that since I was the only blonde in the group I didn’t fit in. Either way it was a ton of fun! The parade lasted about an hour and then the awards were announced at the end! After the parade we continued the Robin Hood theme out with everyone dressed for Carnival. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was dressed up and it was definitely a fun night and an experience I will never forget!
Robin Hoods before the parade!

Enjoying Carnival!

Leader of the pack.

Why yes, we are that cool.