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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 27 October 2011

School Trip

During my Castellano class on Monday, the teacher explained that at 5pm, we would all be going to the local museum (Casa Santonja) to hear a talk on the history of fireworks. We duly trekked off, along with several other folk, to the museum (at the end of the road the school is on).

Inside, were lots of photos, collections of parafinalia and old-fashioned fireworks. Extremely interesting. The chappie started to talk, and, as I suspected, he was talking in Valencio, rather quietly, and I couldn't really understand him. One other English person was there too, so, we sneaked a look at everything, and then crept out! Shhh.

On Wednesday, I opted to go again on my own, and have a proper look. In the end, I actually went with some English people from another class. The museum was open from 18:00 to 20:00 and we got there at about 18:15. There was a mother and son waiting, along with another gentleman. We all stood there for a while, and I commented the it was the normal Spanish timekeeping (they did smile, but looked rather embarassed). Then, a policeman came. He called the people that were meant to be inside, and it transpired that they were in the cafe next door, so they had locked up. A few minutes later, and we all went inside.

I don't know why, but once again I ended up being the interpreter. Outside (on the back terrace), was a layout of a typical firework factory from centuries ago, and the guides explained everything, allowing me to translate for the other three. They showed us exactly how the fireworks were made, with what chemicals, and even how they made the fuses. It was actually very interesting, and I'm sure my interest inspired them, as they then took me around everything, bit by bit, leaving the other Spanish visitors to read everything for themselves. We even managed to ask a few questions, which they were more than happy to answer.

There were fantistic frameworks that fireworks were attached to. One was even an animated snake, chasing after a butterfly. As the firework burned, the butterfly and snake moved around in a three leaved clover shape. Incredible. Other catherine wheel shapes were easy to understand, but they also had a copy of the first firework with moving parts - a dove, whose wings flapped, as it progressed along a rope, driven by the force of the fireworks themselves. The original was created in 1350. It was used in a cathederal, so represent the rising of Christ, and had 12 fireworks underneath, to represent each of the 12 apostles.

Many of the exhibition components were from Italy, Germany and England, as well as Spain. Needless to say, the biggest ones were from Valencia.

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