A few weeks ago, before I left for Spain, our family was discussing what we were looking forward to doing when we got to Spain--you know, what is missing from your life that you want to do more of, and you plan on pursuing in Spain. We each had our own answers, but the only reply that stuck with me is C's. With a little self-deprecating humor and a large dose of hoping I'd forget he said "I want to dance with my wife more."
For those of you that know C, this was a surprising answer. I am almost certain that I can count on two hands the number of times that we have danced together in our 24 year history. Honestly, it may be one hand. I smiled a giant smile then, and I'm smiling again now, just thinking about it.
In Valencia, and only the city, not even the outlying provincial areas, there is a festival known as Las Fallas (Las Fi (rhymes with eye)-yas). The festival is officially in March, but pre-festivities begin in January (similar to krew balls, culminating in Mardi Gras). The traditions and heritage run deep and during the 5 days of the actual Fallas period, there is a set sequence of daily events leading up to the end of Las Fallas where these elaborate papier-mache floats are lit on fire. Several of my instructors that are from outside of Valencia have warned that we will hear fireworks at random times of day, and that we shouldn't try to understand what is going on because they don't understand it themselves.
Oh, and to make you love it even more, a falla is a failure, and the ending of Las Fallas is a burning of these massive papier-mache floats. You are symbolically burning last year's failures and starting anew. How awesome is that?!?
To raise money for creating these gorgeous floats, a lot of communities and barrios have paella dinners. Paella, for those that aren't familiar, is a rice dish that originated in Valencia. You can find paella almost anywhere, but I had not eaten any since the majority of them include meat and even the vegetable paella are typically made with a meat stock.
I did hear of one restaurant, La Tavernaire, that makes a vegan paella on Sundays, so that is where I went yesterday for lunch. Opening time is noon, so I arrived about 12:30 to find that the restaurant was still closed. The gentleman said that I should come back in 15 minutes, so off I wandered around town. It was relatively quiet for a Sunday in the Ruzafa bario, but a few blocks down, I heard some music. As I turned the corner, there was a street market setting up--vendors selling jewelry, baked goods, homemade jams, sangria, beer (loads of beer), and dancing.
I was so very happy to see the dancing. Most of the people were in jeans but there were a handful in traditional Spanish garb (I'm not sure what these dresses are called as the ones for Las Fallas are more ornate and colorful). Whether wearing jeans or skirst, almost everyone had a set of castanets; I know that I had a pair that I got rid of years ago...I guess I'll be replacing them when we get here. I cannot wait to take C up on dancing together more.
I'm posting a video for you to see here. However, if you want to see more, please feel free to jump over to the Spanglish Y'all YouTube channel for additional videos.
If you happen to know what these traditional dresses and suits are called, please let me know.
On a final note, I ended up back at La Tavernaire and enjoyed my paella, patatas bravas, and vino blanco immensely.