Sunday, 20 March 2011
On (Saturday) 19th March, the burning of the Fallas takes place. In Valencia, this is a huge affair, with nearly 1,000 fallas scattered through the city. In Xativa, of course, it is a much smaller affair, and more friendly.
We arrived a little early, and had a hot chocolate in the Avenue, listening to the sounds of fireworks and crackers going off everywhere. (I did comment to Ed, that it was like living in Benghazi at the moment.) People of all ages were throwing crackers, small children, teenagers and adults. Sometimes they were thrown in shop doorways, so that the echo was louder. Garage entries were even worse!
The first of the fallas are burnt at 9pm, as these are the children's ones. The larger ones are lit much later. At about 11pm, the ones in the centre of town were lit (having burnt some of those further away first). It was astonishing to see how quickly they burnt, being made mostly of polystyrene. Thankfully, we were up-wind, so didn't get the noxious effect of the black, acrid smoke.
We stayed to the end, watching the winner being burnt last, at about 2am. We went home exhausted, ready to fall into bed, while Xativa was getting ready to party!
Having completed our business in Jalon, I called a friend living in Albir, to see if they were in, for a coffee. Sly really, as there are 4 caches very near to them!
We met up at a bar, and then went to their flat. They have just moved out to Spain on a permanent basis, but are currently renting. At the moment, they have no intention of buying as renting is so cheap, even when next to the coast. They are both retired now, so don't need a huge house, and their 2 bedroomed flat was lovely and modern, with 2 bathrooms (his and hers) and even a utility room.
We chatted for a while, then I explained about geocaching, as I wanted to find a cache right next to the seafront. They were both intruiged, and happy to go hunting. We knew where to look, so off we went. However, sometimes this geocaching lark is harder than you think! We searched for quite a while and failed miserably. one problem was that there were so many people about, it was hard to search without making things obvious, the other was, that there seemed to be about 50 potential sites for the cache.
They were both keen themselves, so we went back to the flat, and looked on their laptop at the photos other people had taken. This time, Nina knew where they were, so, off we went again, with a proper target in mind. Within just a few minutes, I had the cache. Easy, when you know the right spot. Nina was thrilled to see how it works, and has every intention of finding the other 3 near them now.
Thankfully, when we had returned, it was going dark, and there were very few people about, so we could fill the log in, without everyone knowing what we were doing.
(Roger, Nina and Ed)
From Pedreguer, we went on to the Jalon Valley.
Although I had the co-ordinates for the second cache, we had to meet someone first. I tried to input the name of the town into the sat nav, but it didn't recognise Jalon. Problem. How strange. After a while, it occurred to me, that maybe it wanted the alternative spelling, of Xalo. Correct. How confusing for towns to have two different names! The beauty of living in the Valencia Communidad.
We found the village, and conducted out buiness quite quickly. We then drove to the cache site, which was very easy, as I had seen the nearest carpark on google streetview! This geocaching lark can be very easy sometimes.
Within a short time, we had cache number 2 of the day, and set off for the third.
We had to do a business trip a little way from here, so I checked out the Geocache site, and picked out three caches that we could do easily, by car (as opposed to treking up mountains).
The first one was at the Mirador in Pedreguer.
We went down the motorway, and got off at the first toll. Looking across to Pedreguer, I could see the lookout spot, high above the town. This was something I had never seen before, even though we have been to the Sunday markets on many occasions. Funny how this new hobby brings new facets to things.
We followed the sat nav, but it sent us to the other side of the town. How odd. Perhaps the mountain road goes around the back. We drove for several miles in the wrong direction, including going into an urbanisation, before deciding that something was definately wrong. I suggested to Ed, that we ignore the sat nav, and go back to Pedreguer. Meanwhile, I re-programmed, it with a nearby co-ordinate. As Ed was about to turn right (at a T-junction), the sat nav said to go left. Even though I had told Ed to back to the town, I expected him to follow the new routing, although I hadn't mentioned this to him!!
We followed the new directions for all of 2 miles, and then gave up completely. We drove back to Pedreguer with the sat nav turned off, and found a road sign to the Mirador! However, being Spain, there was only 1 roadsign. Thereafter, we had to guess. As we drove away from the town, I was going to give up, when we spotted another sign. This one took up high into the mountain, through tiny streets, right to the very top of the lookout. It was at this point that I realised what had gone wrong. All of my previous co-ordinates had been N38... and W00... but this one was so near to the coast, that it was actually E00 and I had programmed the sat nav wrongly! Oops. Not a mistake to make again!
We soon found the cache, and signed the log. The view was amazing. 360 degrees. Coast, mountains and countryside. Well worth a trip up, whenever passing the town.
Well, it's March again already, and the annual Fallas take place on 19th each year.
On the Wednesday before, Ed and I took a stroll around Xativa, to see the figures before they were burned. It was a very windy day, and some of the smaller parts were blown over, but thankfully none of the main parts. In Valencia, there were quite a few that got broken.
The Fallas were still excellent, although they were not as big as a few years ago. The crisis has hit Spain in many ways, including the celebrations. They may be a little smaller than before, but they have not been abandoned.
We were also lucky enough to time our trip with the Mascletas at 2pm. This is a huge firework display, with the aim being to make as much noise as possible! Ed and I stood next to the wall, along with everybody else and watched as they all went off. The smoke at times was terrible, but was quickly blown away by the strong winds. After the deafening finale, I turned around and noticed that there were only a few people still looking over the wall - everyone else had moved right back!
It seems quite astonishing that all of this work goes into something that is burnt in a few moments, but in Xativa, there are no 'Moors and Christians', this is their annual event, so it is very important.
Certainly, the bands and the organisers were all having a wonderful time.
There was a matinal (breakfast meeting) in a nearby town, so we took the very scenic route to get there. Instead of 15 miles, we covered about 45. For the return journey, we managed to stretch it to about 20.
This was one of the first meeting of the year, and was a little disorganised, but that is a bit unfair, as there were certainly a lot of prople there. Instead of joining the organised meal, we simply popped into a local bar. We each had a huge baguette, soft drinks and then coffee, all for €5 each! Excellent.
There were bikes parked in every street. We had to park putside the church, which was rather auspicious for a Sunday morning. I should have popped in, and said my thanks, but didn't think it was a good idea really.
Later, the organisers had a route planned around the local area, but we didn't join in, having already had a ride out. Whilst walking around, looking at all of the bikes, I spotted a little girl wearing a crash helmet. She was only about 3 years old. She sat on the bike between her mum and dad, and they took her for a ride around the town. I'm sure they never went above 15 mph, but I was still suprised (and a little relieved too, when they got back)!
There was a real mixture of bikes and people, and the whole town came out to see everyone. It is such a shame that this doesn't happen in England.
Ed spotted a creepy crawly on the lovely, lush bay tree in the front garden. Goodness knows how he even saw it.
I managed to get a really good photo, but it took me a while to figure out what it was. At first, I thought it was a grasshopper, or maybe a cicada, but I think it is actually a locust.
If anyone else can enlighten me, that would be fine!
Spring has certainly sprung.
After the early almond blossom, we have now had the nectarine, and plum blossom. This time, my tiny nectarine tree has managed to produce a lot of flowers, compared with the miserable few of the last few years. Hopefully I will actually get at least one piece of fruit good enough to eat!
The wonderful plum tree has done us proud again. Every year, Ed complains that it is dying (it is) but it manages to flower nontheless. Unfortunately, this year, within a short time of the flowers arriving, we have had a lot of rain. I'm not convenced that many of the flowers were pollenated, before they were destroyed by the weather. Already, there are no flowers left, and the leaves have all peeped out, ready to open up. If we are lucky, we will still get a bowlfull (or two).