Turn off your TV. You will no longer need your weekly dose of Packed to the Rafters, or your episodes of House MD, or your regular fix of Modern Family. For the next several weeks we’ll be following the adventures of new Dad, Brendan, as he and his partner, Viv, as they travel to exotic faraway places, negotiating long flights, hotel rooms and the ups and downs of daily parenthood with their baby daughter, Edie (Pants).
Entry Six – Fallas
We arrived in Valencia twice. First during the early stages of the Fallas festival (when we experienced a mascletà and the street lights radiating from the multitudes of Falla monuments being erected around the city) and finally on the day following the festival’s grand pyrotechnic finale when the various Fallas committees burnt their creations to the ground. We visited the beautiful city of Granada in between and there decided – after much deliberation – to delay our return to Valencia till after the festivities had ended. What was this? Getting old? That new parent: “is this the right thing to do, thing”? Fear of crowds? We had our reasons, most of them were to do with Edie and the prospect of sleepless and sober nights for all while tag-team baby-sitting: with all the crowded confusion, with all the firecrackers booming (and I mean booming, these are more about sound than sight). We instead took an extra day driving up the coast before descending on Viv’s sister Beth and husband John, post the event.The thing you have to understand is that Fallas is all about firecrackers.
These firecrackers are available to anyone (they even sold some to John) and are set off all around, all the time, by young and old. As soon as kids can walk in this place they’re throwing firecrackers to the ground, terrifying the thousands of unsuspecting tourists (most of the locals who aren’t involved leave town). And some of these mini-bombs are designed to go off a few minutes after they’re discarded, so often you can find yourself standing right on top of one, with no one else around, and BOOM!
These Valencians have no regard for public safety at all. While we quibble about bicycle helmet laws, they hand out fireworks to toddlers and virtually set fire to their city every year. They’re completely insane. I love them and wish I didn’t have to leave!
It makes you wonder. We wondered at times whether we’d packed enough underpants; that if Valencia were an American city, how long it would take to evacuate for fear of terror, or terror of fear (can’t remember which way around it is); or how if you ever wanted to shoot someone and get away with it, this would be the ideal time and place.
But a whole two weeks of round the clock explosions (so says Beth) can be pretty nerve-wracking, and especially for a little person.
So in our defence (for being such big new parent pikers) you have to experience the noise of Fallas (which we had, during the build-up) to really appreciate why we fled town; why so many of Valencia’s residents flee town during the festival, while those that don’t flee wind up wearing hearing aids; why the city’s dogs are so much more skittish than regular dogs and why (as with Spain’s many other festivals including the bullrunning and the great Bunyol tomato fight) there’s just no doing things by halves.
We did have more brave intentions. We even got some special headphones for Edie but in the end we couldn’t have people point and laugh at her the whole time, I mean look at her (below)! Ridiculous.
Did we make the right call? Were we frightened parents or just scared tourists frightened off by crowds and explosions? Do I have to answer these questions now that I have a baby as an excuse to either do a thing or not do a thing?!
We think we made the right call in the end, but maybe I’m only saying that for future reference, being that for Edie this blog may exist as a reference for her about her first overseas trip that I can bring out later on when she says we never make any sacrifices for her …
So take a look Pants! Check it out! Look what you made us miss out on you evil little manipulating beast!