Así nos ven (Periódico Elhecho)

 Down the Rabbit Hole

por Kristin Gullans



Surrealism peppers my life in Spain like polka dots on my Granny’s old apron, but never more than at this time of year in Valencia. Come March, I begin to seriously doubt my name is Kristin and begin to wonder if it’s not really Alice.

It starts with a few random pops as I walk past the park with my children. Then tall poles start popping up around neighborhood intersections from one day to the next. Soon I start to hear a willowy clarinet-like music float into the room as I iron on a peaceful morning. Slowly but surely the madness begins. Within a week my easy-going Valencia has morphed into a war-torn Disneyland. Following the lights that appear like the Main Street Electric Parade, barriers go up choking the city traffic to a standstill. Huge chunks of body parts, faces, geometric shapes and all sorts of indeterminate stuff start to appear in the blocked off intersections. You might stroll by a huge chicken the size of a dump truck lying next to a boulder-sized head that looks like John Wayne.

These bizarre Styrofoam and wood structures appear in nothing less than a war zone. What began as a few pops in the park are now constant explosions ranging from pre-school level firecrackers to hundreds of kilos of gun powder. The smaller explosions might be intermittent sniper fire but the daily mascletá takes you back to Beirut.

Chickens, John Wayne and bombs are a weird combination, but throw in bands of people marching in fancy clothes that George Washington’s contemporaries might have donned and you can pretty much assume someone was on acid when they thought up this festival. Most of my neighbors run for the ski slopes at fallas -they just can’t take the serious challenge to their sanity. And my cat darts around the house trying to squeeze himself under the fridge to escape the bombs he thinks are about to land on us. It is positively the most obnoxious event I have ever come across. That must be why I like it so much. Anyone for a mushroom?