Friday, April 5, 2013

C is for Carnaval

No translation needed for this one!

If you haven't been to Carnaval, you can't quite grasp the concept of it. I'm not talking about Rio or New Orleans. I've never been to those, so I can't tell you about them. I'm talking about a small city in South America which claims to have the king of all Carnavals (along with every other city).

Imagine this girl's surprise when, while walking innocently to work, she gets attacked by a horde of crazy adolescents with water balloons

Being a female walking alone in a city like this, one is constantly alert. Having been almost mugged once and attacked by a crazy woman on a different occasion, my first reaction was to let out this amazing shriek, which I can never muster up except for when I think I'm going to be killed, and run. My colleagues calmed me down upon arrival at work by assuring me that this could be expected every day for the next MONTH. Yes folks, carnval is a MONTH LONG celebration.

Perhaps what you didn't know is that being a white woman in an area where you are a minority makes you a preferred target for everyone. They sit in their little huddles atop buildings and behind trees and plot- 10 points if you ruin that guys laptop, 20 points if you make that white shirt see through- OH MY GOD WHITE GIRL, 100 POINTS IF YOU TOTALLY SOAK HER. My local friends were much more adept at spotting these people than I was, and would back off, leaving me to my conversation alone when suddenly a bucket of water would be overturned on me or 20 waterballoons would cause me to do a crazy dance, usually resulting in me jumping into the road and giving motorists a good excuse to curse liberally. My local friends thought this was hilarious and enjoyed speculating about how they "got me again". The worst thing is when you can see a truck coming your way with a group of unruly people in it singing the Carnaval songs, but there is nowhere to hide and you obviously aren't going to outrun them. What fun, what fun. I even caught a couple of my student wallopping balloons out of my third floor classroom window when they thought my back was turned.

Also, throughout the month, drinking in the usually pristine main square is the norm. Usually, people are employed to blow whistles and chase people away if they try to walk on the grass. During Carnaval, urine and garbage is everywhere. Hundreds of people gather in circles to drink, sing and party until dawn. This is, I think the young would say, hardcore partying.

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The "core" part of carnaval is three days. On the Saturday, people set out to paint the city. I mean everything and everybody. It's chaos. The taxis are constantly having to stop and clean off their windscreens as huge groups of people representing each "barrio" (neighbourhood) try to out-paint each other. There is nowhere to hide on the streets. You WILL get painted if you leave your house. I tried to avoid getting painted by running and hiding under the hubcap of a semi much to my friends' delightment. They found me and lanced their paint balloons at me without mercy.

This is somebody who was only peeking out of the balcony of his house.

The other two days are much less crazy. There are lots of parades (and I mean like, 6 hour long parades) featuring all the barrios, and concerts. The worst part is the bleachers they use. How much you pay for your spot on a bleacher depends on whether you want to survive. People make the bleachers using varying qualities of lumber. Sometimes they collapse and the sheer quantity of people is a danger. I mean, there are thousands of people in close confines. It will rain and people will still be throwing water at you. Prepare to get wet.

What an experience!

11 comments:

Dana @ Kiss My List said...

That looks unbelievable! It makes New Orleans look like a snooze fest. Good luck with the A to Z challenge!

Me said...

Reading this made me miss the small fest/carnivals we had back at home (India).

Beautifully expressed. :)

And thanks for stopping by my space. :)

Border-breaking bound said...

Wow, I bet you had some amazing celebrations there! Thanks! No problem, I'm really enjoying visiting people's blogs and getting a window into their worlds!

Border-breaking bound said...

I'd love to experience Carnaval in New Orleans, even if it's a bit tamer than this one!

Elise Fallson said...

Wow! Sounds like the wild west! I certainly would not want to experience this alone. But with a bunch of good friends who know what to expect, it must be a lot of crazy fun.

A-Z participant blogging from Elise Fallson

Rossandra said...

Yow! Hilarious, 100 points for the white girl. Gorgeous header, by the way.

Brett Minor said...

I can't decide if this sounds great or incredibly annoying. Either way, I want to experience it.

Returning visit from A to Z.

Brett Minor
Transformed Nonconformist

Border-breaking bound said...

A bit of both for sure! Thanks for stopping by!

Border-breaking bound said...

Thanks, it's from the light show in Ottawa :)

Border-breaking bound said...

It's something you have to be prepared for, I think, otherwise it'd be a tad startling!

Marie said...

This reminds me of when I took a camel safari in Jaisalmer, India, and the guides thought it would be really funny to put me on the really mean male camel. My fiance (now husband) got the sedate female one. It was not a pleasant experience! I will be writing more about that on the J day--Thursday!