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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Part Bin Laden, Part Bart Simpson

Part Bin Laden, Part Bart Simpson

There have been at least five processions (pasacalles) that have passed below my window in just the last half hour and more are coming. Each procession has its own band and is made up of Falleras, people dressed in traditional Valencia clothing of the Fallas. There have also been about a thousand explosions—both big and ear-shattering—in the last 30 minutes. One of my favorite things about Fallas is seeing all of the little kids dressed up for the event. Some are all decked out in colorful and elaborate traditional clothing that can cost hundreds and hundreds of euros, others wear a traditional pañuelo, or handkerchief, and a smock. The kids are really cute but I can’t forget that they are also the enemy.

Yes, I am scared shitless of the kids during Fallas because they are given carte blanche to blow the crap out of everything. Even the smallest of children are armed with little caps that explode when thrown. Rug rats in the 8-12 year range are outright terrorists during Fallas and should be avoided whenever possible. They are armed to the teeth with fireworks. If I see a group of little snot-nosed punks on a street corner during the festival, I will cross the street quicker than if I saw a group of Crips and Bloods having a shoot-out.

I was hanging out at one of my favorite bars in the neighborhood called La Flor de Ruzafa watching as they were constructing the Falla in the middle of the street. The Fallas are made of wood, Styrofoam, and beer, evidently. I had a great view of the whole process as I stood at the walk-up window. There was also a group of little kids lighting off firecrackers. I guess that is all part of the atmosphere. I felt like I was at a cross between the Carnival in Rio and the Green Line in Beirut.

The little terrorists either ran out of firecrackers or they got bored of blowing up shit. I’m guessing that they ran out. I wasn’t allowed to so much as light a fucking match as a kid, let alone play with firecrackers. I don’t know if I am more annoyed by the noise or more consumed by jealously because these little kids get to do things I could have only dreamed about as a kid. Firecrackers weren’t even legal where I lived so even if my parents weren’t worried about me blowing off a vital part of my body, I probably couldn’t have scored any explosives. The little, pre-adolescent al Qaeda kids were kicking around near the bar and the Falla construction site looking for something to do. This was at about 2 a.m., which during Fallas is a perfectly normal time for kids to be out, unsupervised, in the street.

I was talked into playing futbolín (foosball) with my sworn enemies. I got paired up with the leader of their little terrorist cell. It turned out the young Bin Laden and I dominated the table for quite some time until the others made us break up our winning team. The good news is that bars stay open really, really late during the festival so I didn’t have to choose between futbolín and last call.

P.S. I just learned that each local Fallas group, called Casal Fallero, passed beneath my window on this Sunday afternoon in the short time it took me to write this essay. It was part of the judging of the Fallas.

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