Well, the official dates have been set for Cozumel Carnaval, 2013. Apparently, the main festivities are scheduled for February 6th through the 13th, but, let me assure you, the fun has already begun. Let me give you an example. I was taking a casual walk into el centro tonight and was never so glad that I had remembered to bring along both my camera and extra batteries. The stage was set, literally, the music was loud, and the costumes were elaborate. And, the best part was that everyone was having fun, whether they were part of the entertainment, or just one of the many guests. It was time to find a location and start taking some pics.
There was an emcee on the stage all dressed in white and he was shouting enthusiastically. That seemed like the place to go to take some shots, but it became clear, almost immediately, that I had arrived too late. I did try and urge my way through, but there just wasn’t any room for me. Then I looked around for a ledge, bench, light pole, anything. I wasn’t picky by that time. But, there weren’t too many of those either; the place was packed. While searching for a site I came across a clown bending those crazy balloon hats that the tourists seem to love. He struck a pose, I got the shot, and off I went to continue my search.
It was hard to ignore the pageantry on the stage, even if it was hard to see around the crowd. The costumes were incredibly complex and consisted of everything from feathers to metal. The best way to describe them is that each and every one was a miniature float with a single person somewhere inside. And that person would often be wearing an intricate headdress just in case the point hadn’t been made that this was a celebration of color and detail. While one such person was performing, with a backdrop of smoke and explosive lighting, it hit me that they had to be getting ready to go on stage somewhere. These folks were absolutely not getting into these getups by themselves. So I headed back through the crowd to go behind the stage and it was the best decision I’ve made in quite a while.
There were excited participants everywhere behind the scenes. Folks getting ready for their moment in the spotlight, being helped with their costumes, posing for shots, chatting on phones, fixing each others’ makeup, it was bedlam. And, for a photographer, even this amateur, it was a dream come true. I couldn’t click fast enough and was happy to discover that everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted their picture taken. I’d take a couple of shots of a group just standing around and, almost immediately would catch the eye of others who’d grab each other and smile for me. This went on for a while until I was happy to discover that the folks who’d just been on stage would disembark and yet remain in their full stage costumes so that people like me could get another picture.
Now, I’m not a journalist and I don’t know much about Cozumel Carnaval other than it has been celebrated for over a hundred years. I do know that my only regret moving here was that I’d missed last year’s events. But, if tonight is any indication, I’m going to make up for lost time. After grabbing a shot of a guy who’d just finished performing I saw a group of kids just sitting and waiting for their turn. I think I caught them a bit by surprise, but no-one seemed to mind.
I heard some excited folks behind me and turned just in time to see a woman all dressed in white with no concern for the fact that the temperature had finally dropped. Right after her I noticed another group of kids who were trying to catch my attention. By this point it seemed that folks had noticed me too and were trying to make sure I took their photos as well. There was a bit of competition in the air and I was happy to oblige. It was amusing that one of them, although obviously striking a pose for me, was still unwilling to stop using her phone. But, that’s just the way it is these days.
Finally, as I walked just a bit further, I saw that one scene that I knew would be the perfect end to my evening. A beautiful woman who seemed as if she was emerging from a Mayan Pyramid was just standing by herself. I don’t know if she was next on stage, or had just finished, but her costume, in my opinion, was breathtaking. I caught her eye, she lifted her hand in greeting and I got my last pic of the night. After we both exchanged a smile I put my camera back in my bag and headed off to find a taxi. All I can say is that if this is what it’s like before the actual carnaval even begins, it’s going to be quite a party. As far as me, I’m going to need to get some rest, a mug to carry coffee, and a lot more batteries. Salud!