Last Saturday, I was awoken at 8am by the sound of rifles and church bells. The guns fired every five minutes and the bells sounded uninterrupted for an hour. I was filled with dread — it was my first weekend in the city, and I figured this was probably normal.
It was with great relief that I learned Valencia was celebrating the 800th birthday of King Jamie I – modestly known as “The King of All Valencians”. The bells and rifles were just part of a larger celebration that would last all day. I had a lot of work to do, but I looked at the schedule of events and decided to go to the 2pm mascletá. “Probably a dance”, I thought.
How wrong! At 2pm, I took my place in La Plaza del Ayuntamiento and watched firemen light up an entire square, covered in strings of fireworks. A mascletá, it turns out, is the craziest firework display I’ve ever seen. They’re usually practiced during Las Fallas (in March), but this was a special occasion. For 10 minutes, I was rocked by shock waves, and the finale was ridiculous. I would’ve covered my ears and run away whimpering, but didn’t want to betray my cowardly American sensitivity. Around me, children and little old ladies were laughing and clapping.
I’m starting to get a little nervous about the upcoming Fallas. Valencians are crazy.