Carnival in La Paz, Mexico. Up until today, it’s been mostly really loud thumping base keeping us awake until 2am…man, have we really gotten that old? Tonight, we went into town to actually experience this tradition of indulgence and fun before the fasting of Lent begins
After a morning of emails and group contracts , we headed into La Paz for a double Avocado Burger (we must indulge after all) and a walk on the Malecon before the parade began. Donned in my most festive attire of bright orange shorts, a purple shirt and turquoise jacket, I was ready. Carnival here is a family event with kids games, tasty treats and all kinds of crafty goodness. The 3 mile stretch along the Malecon gets closed to vehicle traffic and the people swarm. You have a young boy over here tossing bean bags into a hole with his eye on that gray donkey hanging on the wall and a tiny girl tentatively climbing the stairs of the inflatable slide not sure if this is actually going to be fun. There are conservatively dressed women with bright red hair and flamboyant men dressed in feather headdresses. Then, there is the music. In those three miles, there are 3 stages with different bands playing from evening to two am. I do have to admit that I truly do enjoy the beats and rhythms of Spanish music. It makes me at least think about shaking my booty.
But, we are here to see the parade which we hear shouldn’t be missed. We find a spot amidst the stuffed animals and candiecane vendors and wait for the parade to begin. The police take their positions to keep people out of the street and the parade starts with a group of motorcycles. Following are the trucks pulling floats, each one having their own six speaker set up blasting their booty moving music. There were school bands playing their drums and trumpets, beautifully adorned women wearing feather headdresses and sparkly satin gowns and gay men and women strutting their stuff. Of course, you can’t forget the float with the king and queen of the Carnival. Pretty much everyone of them dancing their hearts out. Then, to make my evening even more special, a 10 year old girl sitting in front of me gets up the nerve to practice her English. She turns to me and says “Hello, my name is Anandria” At least that is what I understood her name to be. I practice my broken Spanish while she runs back and forth to her annoyed father asking him how to say this or that in English. We discussed our favorite animals (Mine a dolphin and hers a dog) and how old we were. She excitedly scurried about grabbing the thrown candy before the other kids could grab them. As the last float goes by, I say “Adios, Mucho Gusto”. She replies ‘goodbye”.
In the end, Carnival is not about the loud annoying music keeping us away until deep in the night. It’s about the intense satisfaction on that young boys face as he is handed that gray donkey, that young girl excitedly telling her father that “It really was fun”, that beautiful woman’s joy as she dances to the uplifting rhythms, the connection over language between a 10 year old girl and 52 year old woman, and a really really good burger. Despite the loud music, I’ll sleep well tonight