What’s a Falla?

As I mentioned in another post, I am a news junkie. I love the news. Some people use their Twitter accounts to stalk celebrities; I use mine to follow the Today Show, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Department of State, just for good measure. I am constantly using my phone to refresh my Twitter feed, to know exactly what is going on everywhere in the world. Unfortunately, my 3G network doesn’t reach me in España and my WiFi access tends to be limited. At times, I feel a little out of the loop.

Reason why I bring this up: March 13. Possibly one of the most exciting days in my entire life. I had just finished tutoring and I was riding the bus (good old bus route #2) back to my neighborhood, with plans to hit the gym before heading home. I’m sort of in the zone, not really paying attention to what is going on around me. All of the sudden, I hear two words on the radio: fumata bianca. My head snaps up and I look at the other passengers, wondering if they heard what I just heard or if my tired brain is just making things up. The bus driver cranks the radio, silencing everyone on the bus and I know that I didn’t mishear those words. Fumata bianca—WE HAVE A NEW POPE! The bus is completely silent, with everyone waiting to hear the announcement of the nuevo Papa’s identity. When the bus reached my stop and I was forced to get off, I ran to my house as fast as I could—skip the gym, there’s a new Pope for crying out loud! I immediately started streaming Vatican Radio Live on my laptop. With the announcement of Papa Francisco I comes even more excitement, Cardinal Bergoglio spent a year at the University of Alcalá in the 1970s. That’s my school. The pope’s first language is Spanish. My high school Spanish name was Francisca. There’s no denying it—Papa Francisco and I are destined to be best friends. ¡VIVA EL PAPA!

It’s a good thing the white smoke happened when it did. If I hadn’t been so excited, the news I received the next day would have hurt a lot more than it did. The day after March 13is March 14, a very important day in the world of mathematics. 3.14! This is the part of the story where Amanda realizes something very sad: if the U.S. date is 3.14, then the date in Spain is 14.3… In Spanish, the day is written before the month! No need to panic, we’ll just rearrange it a little bit. Alternate date options: 31.4? (There are not 31 days in April.) 3.14? (There is not a 14th month of the year.)

Conclusion: The limit does not exist. Well, in this case, the pi (and the pie!) does not exist. There is no Pi Day in Spain. DEVASTATED. At times like these, I have to (again) recall the wise words of the lovely Madeline: “Whatever you do, don’t wallow.” So, even though I was absolutely distraught at the lack of 3.14, I got over it pretty quick. No time to mope when the next adventure is just around the corner!

With no school the following Monday, we once again had a four-day weekend to travel and explore. This excursion took us to the eastern coast of Spain, to Valencia, to witness the third biggest festival in the entire world: Las Fallas.

What’s that? You say you have never heard of Las Fallas?

No worries, I hadn’t either. I had to do a little Wikipedia research before we left. Here is a little video blurb about Las Fallas. Check it out!

Las Fallas 2013

Fallas was incredible. Having the opportunity to experience a world-renowned festival while abroad is amazing. An unforgettable weekend, to say the very least. Shout out to Wes, my amigo from UW who is studying in Valencia this semester, for letting me crash on his couch for three nights.


Loving the Valencian sunshine.
Loving the Valencian sunshine.

Other interesting discoveries about Valencia:

*”Normal Spanish” is called Castellano. In Valencia, they don’t speak “normal Spanish”; they speak Valencian. The two languages are very similar, but it can get a little confusing when your map tells you to look for Calle de la Paz and the street sign says Carrer de la Pau.

*One of the main sights in Valencia is the Rio Turia, a dried up riverbed that cuts through the entire city. The river was drained years ago and has been converted into a park, complete with running trails, benches, and beautiful scenery.

*Valencia weather is way better than Alcalá weather. It is sunny all the time and the temperature hit 70 degrees while we were there.

*Also, there’s a beach.


¡Vamos a la playa, a mi me gusta baila! (Photo Credit: Brittni Matthews)
¡Vamos a la playa, a mi me gusta baila! (Photo Credit: Brittni Matthews)

Reflection on the weekend: I love Valencia. I want to go back and explore the city even more. But I’ll go back sometime when Las Fallas is not going on. My view of Valencia includes fireworks, large statues, and parades of cute babies in sparkly dresses. I would love to experience the daily life of Valencia, what it is like during the other eleven months of the year. And honestly, I need a little time off before I attend something else as crazy as Las Fallas.

Last thing for now: whoever submitted this to the Badger Herald, you are a daymaker. Let’s be best friends, okay?

B12 #3