Well, today is the final day of Carnaval here on the island of Cozumel and I’ve just returned from the loudest, wildest, and most colorful parade imaginable. And, the streets were packed with revelers eager to celebrate Fat Tuesday before the somber tones of Lent begin. They’d gathered to watch the multitude of floats and street performers, as well as eat, drink, and be frantic with enthusiasm. In fact, the party is still in full swing, but I’m just not capable of a single moment more. It’s been a lot of fun and completely exhausting, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts and pics before going to bed for a very long time.
Now, before I begin I want to mention that I’d spent the day online researching the settings for my digital so as to get the best shots. Accustomed to 35mm SLR cameras means that this is a new world and I wanted to learn the details before the festivities began. However, that turned out to be quite the mistake since whatever I’d done had caused some problems. With that said, let me express my displeasure at the shots I will be including. Still, it was such a big night that I’ll take the chance and share a few anyway. They throw such a party down here that words alone would fail me.
A friend of mine had found a great location to view the events and invited me to join her group. So, we met on the balcony of Bob’s, a restaurant on Melgar next to the Barracuda Hotel, and settled in an hour before the parade was to start. It was an ideal location to watch the many folks wander the streets, often in full costumes, wigs, masks, beads, or some combination of all the above. Even toddlers were dressed for the event. Me? Well, I did my part by wearing makeup for the first time in over a year. Enough said, I’ll get back to the events. We lined our chairs up and chatted while pointing out some of the more original get-ups. Our waiter was a young man with an easy smile and he worked hard to keep up with our orders. But, it wasn’t long before the parade began and everyone who had one grabbed their cameras.
The streets were packed by this time and in between the floats and street performers, little kids would pause underneath our balcony and motion for beads, which we happily threw down to them. Since the parade was heading north on the other side of the street, there were many wanderers, or folks sitting at tables set up curbside enjoying the show. I kept fiddling with my camera and missed a lot until it occurred to me that maybe new batteries would help. But, nope, I’d really messed something up and the surroundings were just too chaotic to focus on dials and menu settings for long. Determined to see the fun I finally just decided to chalk it up to a lesson learned and set it to automatic and grabbed what I could.
There were floats that were brilliantly lit and filled with folks dressed according to the theme. Harem girls would be followed by children dressed in fruit, but if there was a particular order I never did figure it out. The Sol Girls in their revealing outfits were dancing on a platform lit up by thousands of gold bulbs and then along came The Mario Brothers, which were guys dancing in huge stuffed outfits in spite of the heat. This was clearly an event for all ages and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was an outlandish and highly eclectic gathering of people just wanting to have some fun.
Street performers would be dancing to a tune that only they could hear over the noise while folks on “our side” of the street just kept wandering in and around the numerous portable vendors carts that were loaded with cotton candy, glitter masks, glow tubes, neon wigs, you name it. Then another friend paused underneath our balcony and waved up to us. I had to grab a shot, even though my camera still wasn’t cooperating. But, in spite of the problems, I liked the pic. It seems to show her as the calm in the center of the storm. Besides, she was dressed for the event complete with great boots and makeup and was accompanied by a friend in a stylish hat and a red silk tie. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you like to escape reality for a while.
But, as with all good things, it was coming to an end, at least for me. As I looked around, I managed to photograph a gentleman who was on a float in the middle of the party and, yet, was still texting. I guess it really is that kind of world now. After that it was time to throw some more beads down to the newest group of kids who were waving up to us and then get ready to head home. I was just waiting for that final shot and it didn’t take long. Apparently, as soon as the parade hits the end point on the northern side of the island they shoot off fireworks to let folks know. And, when that happened, it became my last photo for the night. I packed my bag, said my goodbyes, and headed home with a smile. Tomorrow promises to be a quiet day and I, for one, am quite happy with that idea. Salud!
p.s. someone who is “in the know” just informed me that Carnaval is Not quite over yet. There is still the burning of Juan Carnaval to occur today, Wednesday…..thanks for the tip, Charles!