Monday, March 15, 2010

El viente

This isn't real! The last couple of days have been completely unreal. Unreal! I had the best birthday of my life and am thrilled to be twenty.

Las Fallas is something indescribable. A bizarre and wild exhibition of lights, people from all over the world, discotecas in the streets, costumes and ninóts y hay un montón de gente  y verbenas and fireworks and petardos y ruido y locura y salir de fiestas y amanecer y las falleras y las amigas y una energía atenta y una ducha de las cenizas. My friends pulled out all the stops for me and bought a huge headdress for me to wear on my birthday nights. I felt special, special and I think I laughed for about eight hours straight with all of my friends. During the day we went out to lunch with friends and went to the beach and celebrated and celebrated and walked around the city marveling at the craziness. Walking around during Las Fallas is so absolutely bizarrely wonderful. Every plaza, big and small, has a brightly colored structure called a falla that is made of plaster and are usually five stories tall. They are intricately detailed and bulbously stylized. They are realistically rendered and creepily cartoonish. They are supremely precarious and architecturally constructed. Indescribable. Every one hundred yards you see another one, each more bizarre and wonderful, and there are over 300 in the city. Continue walking around... There are street vendors every where selling pañuelos and buñuelos and churros and helados and muñecas and patatas. People screaming and laughing and carrying on. Valencia is the second most advanced producer of fireworks in the world behind China. At two o'clock every afternoon there is a mascletá in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Thirty minutes before two o'clock people are moving as if pulled by a magnet to the center of town. Here the falla is paid for by government money (not private organizations of citizens like the others) and is the masterpiece of them all. There are over five figures, each dancing or looking crazy-eyed. The plaza is packed with people all anticipating for the fallera mejora (the most beautiful and kind woman in the city, supposedly) to say over the microphone, "Senor pirotecnic, pod comenzar la mascletá!" La mascletá is the loudest thing I will ever hear. It's synchronized NOISE. It is so LOUD. Smoke takes over the plaza and ashes rain down on your heads. It starts off slow and builds until the ground is shaking and your brain vibrates in your skull and everyone around you is in disbelief at what is going on. Your heart rhythms are changed. It sounds like one thousand cannons at the same time. It's strangely therapeutic. Indescribable. And it happens every day with increasingly amount of fervor each day. Today was the first day of it. Continue walking around... There are impromptu bands playing flutes and banging cymbals. Every cafe is packed and people are dressed up and excited. There are children wearing bandanas and dogs running around everywhere. People throw fireworks at will all around you. Indescribable. Continue walking around... At night there are random and open street parties with a live d.j. You can follow the sound of music around the neighborhood until you find one. People in the balconies above these streets come out and dance. People from all over and all affected by the energy of Las Fallas. Tonight is the first night of the giant firework show in el rio that happens every night at midnight. Just indescribable. 

Nineteen was great. What a great year! I lived in my own house for the first time, cooking and cleaning and paying bills and loving every minute of it. I discovered medical anthropology as a passion and pursuit in future education and career. I was constantly surrounded by wonderful warm souls of my friends and family. I have matured and grown and started developing a worldview influenced by living outside of my country for the first time. I have come to appreciate and love the culture I come from. There is something so fun about 19. But 20. I have been waiting for this one. I feel like I am going to love this decade of my life, and I am really going to take full advantage of it. I have big plans and ideas for this decade. What an absolute treat that the biggest party happening in the world right now started it all off!

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