In one week, after a few more days in Athens and a short stay in Dublin, I’ll will be back on U.S. soil. More than 5 1/2 months of living abroad seems to have stretched out for much longer this time. For me, spending time in a new place (3 months in Spain, 2 months in Croatia) really opened up the opportunity for revelation – not just knowing a city without a map, or learning a few words in the local language, but it’s really the unique and wonderful people that time allows you to connect with. Each and every place continues to show me how we all are inexplicably linked together by so many common threads – and to be there long enough to let these truths naturally unearth (more…)
The Thought of a Woman - check out the amazingwork from Conrad Roset
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April 5th, 2012 – Standard The Mind of da Vinci - Las Falles Valencia, Spain (1280x1024) (131) Wide – The Mind of da Vinci - Las Falles Valencia, Spain (1920x1080) (135)
For the past several hundred years come Spring, Valencianos have been burning things. And of course, keeping the tradition is the tradition here in Spain. Today Las Falles is one of the biggest Spring festivals is Europe and as the entire city of Valencia explodes in a firey paella party! The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments constructed for and burned during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original in Valencia. (see the earlier photo essay about the Magdalena Festival)
Supposedly started in the Middle Ages, when carpenters disposed of the broken artifacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox, the tradition continued to evolve into something much more meaningful. Over time, and with the intervention of the Church (of course), the date of the burning was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. Many times well-known people from the neighborhood and government were often portrayed as well. With time, people of the neighborhoods organized the building of the falles and the typically intricate constructions, including their various figures, were born (and burned). Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the falles were tall boxes with three or four wax dolls dressed in fabric clothing. This changed when the creators began to use cardboard. The fabrication of the falles continues to evolve in modern times, when the largest displays are made of polystyrene and soft cork easily molded with hot saws (but Im sure isn’t very friendly to anyone inhaling it…let alone the environment). These techniques have allowed the creation of falles over 100ft high – now that is how you party! Out of all the Falles I got to see (there are around 600 or something) this one was one of my favorites.
I managed to see it burn from a distance and got off a few shots. As you can see it was incredibly close to the surrounding apartments so instead of spraying down the fire, the fire department sprayed down the buildings. I found a short video about the da Vinci ninot (little brother to the falles) that highlights all the details. I love the notes and tools they put in the back of his head….check it out -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rznADT6QU8
One thing I really love about photography is that many times I use it as my excuse to get out and see the world. I feel the pull to get up, grab my camera and go for a walk –and the feeling is doubled while living abroad. Although, it helps if you know where the action is, it’s also nice just to run into those serendipitous moments where you’re at the right place at the right time. Sometimes to the bigger events I will intentionally bring my heavy and assuming camera and lens that allows me to slip into the mix of media people to get a few shots — all it takes is a bit of acting like you belong there. A trick I use (when I haven’t already been granted a press pass) is a pretty simple one. I find a gang of press photogs just before the event and strike up a conversation with one just so I can be associated with the group. Usually the person checking credentials won’t have time to check them all and there’s my in. It’s a balance of knowing when to pull out the big guns and go for it, or hang back and play it cool.
This week was the start of The Festival of La Magdalena in Castellón de la Plana, Spain. A week long party that commemorates the birth of the city over 700 years ago. This year unfortunately, it falls just before another major festival just a few miles south of us in Valencia called Las Fallas so, we will only get to see the start of the week. I had no idea this quiet little city could get so loud. I think it helps that the Mascletas (daily at 2pm), parades, concerts, and parties (think marching bands with guns mixed with European techno) are only a few steps away from our apartment.
One event during this Festival called Romería de las Cañas (Pilgrimage of the Cane) is the most meaningful and historical part of the week for the local residents. Its a symbolic walk from the city center plaza to the ancient ruins of Castellon city in the hills a few miles away that honors the past residents of Castellon who moved the city to the plana (or plains). It was an early wake up call for me (gasp 6:45am!) but my camera made me get up and I couldnt argue. I thought there would be a few people who would get up early from the long night of beer, wine, parades and parties to actually brave the chilly morning walk. Turns out, half the damn town got up and the other half seemed like they hadn’t been home yet. It was amazing to see so many people ready to make the walk, like their ancestors did over 700 years ago.
My spanish is not yet to ‘conversationable’ level so I had to rely on my trick — where were those photojournalists?? There were a few sitting around so I waited until they started to group together because I knew I would get some good angles staying close to them. Due to the masses of people, they had to stay one step ahead of what was going on otherwise it would be impossible to get close. Thankfully, I kept up with them and got a few shots — even though I had no idea what anyone was saying haha. Here are a few shots from the first few days of the Festival de la Magdalena 2012….
At 7am the sun rises just enough to warm the top of The Fadrí – the 200ft. tall bell tower in the Plaza Mayor — and marks the start of the Romería de las Cañas (Pilgrimage of the Cane) for the Festival of La Magdalena in Castellón de la Plana 2012.
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Foguera Dels Velluters – Here are a few images from the protest/celebration. Watch a short video of it here.
A boy concentrates to stay balanced as he rides around the bonfire.
As a show of strength and unity the group balance each other two high. The Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of Pilar Parish) Catholic Church in the background.
Protesters place charactertures of local politicians dressed as sausages into the fire to burn. Many people feel that public funds have been mishandled while teachers and other public occupations’ wages are continually being cut.
A member of the drummer troop is hit in the head by an object thrown from an apartment window. It’s still unknown who threw it or why.
A girl throws another stick onto the fire in the Plaza del Pilar. Smaller fires were set up to cook various foods and hang out with fellow people from the neighborhood.
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January 19th, 2011 – Standard Waiting for the Sun - Valencia, Spain (1280x1024) (128) Wide – Waiting for the Sun - Valencia, Spain (1920x1080) (130)
Our first few days in Spain have been pretty normal so far but not to say it hasn’t been stimulating. Consisting mostly of time spent working in front of the computer and mostly at night since our brains are still connected to the Central Time Zone of the US – so until that pendulum starts to swing the other way, we’ll still be wide-eyed at 2 a.m. It’s strange being here in such a new place but continuing to live as we did just last week – but this trip isn’t a vacation, but a relocation for a breath of fresh air to our creative and wonder-lusting minds.
Rarely do I post a wallpaper from the same location that I’m currently in (mainly because I have too many old ones to post) but this image, taken from our apartment window this afternoon was worth it. Our apartment is in the oldest part of Valencia’s city center but remodeled with many modern conveniences – it’s nice to open the windows to hear the goings-on among the streets below…something that would be a bad idea back home right about now. Check out the listing on Airbnb and experience it for yourself someday!