7 insane days… (In Valencia, Spain)

The following are, in no particular order of importance, some of the things I have seen over the last seven days or so in Spain:

Tuesday: Whilst coming out the front door of my apartment I was greeted with the site of a large lump of shit on the ground, with a very large firework sitting in it, the fuse hissing towards the explosives. I ran. The shit, quite literally, was flying.
Friday: An estimated 1.2 million people cram the city centre, silently moving in droves upon droves. Hands painted white. Black ribbons on shirts. Banners calling Aznar, Bush and Blair, liars, murderers and war criminals. When you consider that the city has a population of less than 1 million people…
Saturday: A crowd of 8000 angry Spaniards stand outside the PP office (the office of the Popular Party) screaming at the top of their voices, demanding that Aznar stop playing games and give the people the information they want concerning the atrocity in Madrid. Previously that day, it had emerged that Aznar had telephoned the editors of the four largest newspapers in Spain assuring them that the bombing was the work of ETA and not Al Qaeda. In addition, the state run television channel had changed their mid week movie to a film concerning ETA.
Sunday night: Whilst having dinner with friends a phone call arrives telling us that the unimaginable has happened. The PSOE socialist party have won a spectacular victory, ousting the Aznar government. The following morning I meet a Spanish friend of mine in the street who hugs me and begins chanting “Ista! Ista! Ista! Espana Socialista!”
Monday night: 40,000 or more Spaniards standing beside the riverbed, dancing to the sound of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”. On the dot of ten, every street light goes out and for the next twenty minutes, I witness what looks like a small nuclear war in the sky above me as Valencia begins Fallas, the fire festival.
Tuesday morning: After having been celebrating a local Falla (community centre) and witnessing first hand the building of a Falla (a huge, incredibly detailed scultpture which has taken six months to design and build and which will be burnt in three days) I awake to what sounds like Armageddon outside my window: a huge cacophanous fireworks display. It is 8 a.m.
Tueday afternoon: Spanish women stand in the street, singing, laughing, drinking red wine and cooking Paella. Around them stand children, men, policemen, beggars, bums, hippies looking for a free feed. Everyone is welcomed.
There’s another five days of this lunacy to go…
15M – the re-taking of Spain »
11M – The Bombing of Madrid »

Damien DeBarra was born in the late 20th century and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He now lives in London, England where he shares a house with four laptops, three bikes and a large collection of chairs.

1 comment

  1. Damian.
    Great description of the anti-fascist demonstration in Valencia – I felt I was really there and not playing football as I (shamefully) was!
    One small point. If all the Spaniards had been tricked into thinking it was ETA, why had they all made banners saying “Bush, Blair assassins”
    Also, how annoying to find out that the bombs had been planted, not by Tony Blair, but by Al Qaida! Duh!
    Love Paddy

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