Other language assistants who live in Spain and I waited anxiously from the roof of Valencia’s town hall building during Las Fallas celebrations. Our toes were wet, our hands were cold, and our scarves were in danger of blowing away. The mascletá was scheduled for two o’clock, but given how windy it was, everyone was saying they might cancel it. Still, the opportunity to see the pyrotechnics show was worth the cold, wet, suspenseful wait.
A loud “boom” suddenly interrupted the middle of our conversation. It signaled the 10 minute warning before the start of the show. We all smiled with relief. We looked down upon the plaza and saw that it was packed with people tightly squished against each other. Before long the “fallera mayor,” which might be translated into the “festival queen” took the microphone. “Mr. Pyrotechnician, you may now start the mascletá.” (Valencian – “Senyor pirotécnic pot començar la mascletá” | Spanish – “Señor pirotécnico puede iniciar la mascletá”)
The pyrotechnician took his flare and touched it to the fuse on the ground. Instantly a loud screeching filled the air followed by explosions that rattled our teeth. If we thought we had a good view before the show started, there was no hint of a doubt left after the first 15 seconds. What the fireworks lacked visually (the mascletá is during the day) they made up for in sound and potency. The fireworks were exploding in our faces and ash rained down upon our heads. After a minute of increasing volume and vibrations I could feel my body tensed up like a tightly coiled spring. I tried to relax my muscles but I quickly gave up. I just grinned wildly and enjoyed the whole-body experience.
The show ended in a deafening and blinding cloud of explosions. The grand finale was followed by a loud cheer from the crowd as they rushed towards the railings to pick up the pyrotechnicians to carry them around.
We eventually made our way down to the street and squeezed between the crowds of people milling around. The next and final stop of our trip to Valencia awaited us—a huge paella by the beach.
2014/2015. Posted by Douglas T.