It’s time for another translation from Galeano’s book ‘Children of the days’ and I’ve chosen 20 March: the world upside down because that date is nearly upon us, and because it’s the “fallas” festival here in Valencia, and every day this week the smell of gun power and sound of explosions has grown in intensity and decibels.
Here’s the translation. The original in Spanish is at the very end of the post.
20 March: the world upside down
On the 20th of March 2003, Iraqi airplanes bombed the United States.
After the bombing, Iraqi troops invaded US soil.
There was collateral damage. Many US civilians, the majority women and children, lost their lives or were maimed. Exact figures are unknown because tradition dictates counting the number of fallen invading troops and prohibits counting the civilian victims of the invaded population.
The war was inevitable. The security of Iraq and all of humanity was under threat by the immense accumulation of weapons of mass destruction in the US arsenal.
There was no basis, however, to the insidious rumors suggesting that Iraq intended on keeping all the oil in Alaska.
I had to read the original about three times, before I got the twist. I kept thinking I was misunderstanding or not comprehending the Spanish. Dah, it’s all in the title of the vignette, “the world upside down”.
I also don’t want to be flippant or disrespectful of people who live through or die in war. War is terrible and I wish we had fewer to none, and one day maybe we will.
The “fallas” festival is not war. In fact the “fallas” are being considered by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for entry into the list of events of intangible cultural heritage.
If you want to know more about the “fallas” generally, visit this link.
What I’d like to take some space to moan about is the body-shaking, ear-breaking tradition of the “mascletà” and the endless and random tossing of firecrackers. I find absolutely nothing enjoyable about the pyrotechnics angle to the “fallas“.
“Mascletà” is the arrangement and stringing up of fireworks and firecrackers in such a way
they go off in sequence. For the last three weeks there has been a “mascletà” in the plaza in front of town hall every day at 2pm, which goes on for 10 minutes or so. Here’s a video clip of a “mascletà”. It’s less than one minute, see if you can sit and listen to the whole thing.
Did you enjoy that? Now imagine that all day long, every now and then.
and it’s not all day long but it certainly sounds and feels like it. There’s a “fallas” club right outside my front door. But that’s not really all that special, there seems to be a “fallas” club on every corner. We are lucky though, judging by the size and set-up of the “fallas” club on our street, it’s pretty small and homespun compared to others in the neighbourhood. The bigger, more flashier ones also have set up bars and food stalls, which means more people, more noise, and more “mascletàs” for fun.
OK enough moaning. I try to keep in mind that tomorrow this will all be over, and next year, we will know to leave town during “fallas“.
the “fallas” sculpture on my street
It takes a few days to completely assemble the sculpture. I sensed this one was about the political change afoot in Valencia, and that was confirmed when the last piece added was the new mayor, Joan Ribó who last year displaced Rita Barberá after 24 years on the job. The authorities are currently investigating Rita and colleagues for corruption.
It’s funny how seemingly surface issues can really go deep. Here’s a link about the controversy behind some changes to three king day traditions in Madrid and Valencia. It may seem frivolous, but change of some sort is underway in Spain, and to some that change looks like the world upside down.
20 marzo: el mundo al revés
El 20 de marzo del año 2003, los aviones de Irak bombardearon los Estados Unidos.
Tras las bombas, las tropas Iraquíes invadieron el territorio norteamericano.
Hubo numerosos daños colaterales. Muchos civiles estadounidenses, en su mayoría mujeres y niños, perdieron la vida o fueron mutilados. Se desconoce la cifra exacta, porque la tradición manda contar víctimas de las tropas invasoras y prohíbe contar las víctimas de las población invadida.
La guerra fue inevitable. La seguridad de Irak, y de la humanidad entera, estaba amenazada por las armas de destrucción masiva acumuladas en los arsenales de los Estados Unidos.
Ningún fundamento tenían, en cambio, los rumores insidiosos que atribuían a Irak la intención de quedarse con el petróleo de Alasaka