Wednesday, February 10, 2016
you can't samba in a hula skirt
Barra de Navidad is not Rio de Janeiro or even New Orleans.
But we swim in what passes for a Roman Catholic culture. And if it is Fat Tuesday (as it was yesterday), it is time for Carnaval. A last celebration before the church-imposed strictures of Lent descend on our partying beach towns. (That is, if you do not take notice of the huge bacchanal that is the St. Patrick festival that falls right in the middle of the self-flagellation season.)
Yesterday evening was a time for the village to let down its hair and party like there would be no hangover tomorrow morning. At least, that is what I thought I was going to experience.
The Carnaval organizers put together what could easily pass for a limited parade in almost any small town around the world. Lots of cardboard and crepe paper slapped onto utility trailers pulled by SUVs. It looked far more like the opening of an auto show -- with the floats as a mere afterthought.
Even though there were no horses and no young school children marching in what could pass for some type of formation and no cacophonous bands, all of the other elements were there.
A pretty girl accompanied by guys in Brazil soccer shirts doing their best to bring a little Rio flavor to Barra de Navidad.
King Momo himself -- the traditional royalty of Latin American Carnaval parades.
The same girls who usually march wearing their school uniforms now undressed to look like Brazilian beauties -- even though most seemed to be quite indifferent to the whole experience.
A young dancing couple, accompanied by little mermaids, came as close as anything you might see in Brazil -- but with far more Mexican modesty.
Another pretty girl who appeared to want be anywhere else other than on the top of a pickup cab -- with male escorts who were content to be in her presence, but paid her no attention.
Little cab-top sitters in training. At least one was engaged with the crowd.
And, because this is Mexico, there is always something to let us laugh at just how silly all of this flummery called life really is. He got the most laughs if all. Maybe because he helped put the gras back in Mardi.
The parade serpentined itself through Barra de Navidad up to the major north-south highway (where it tied up traffic for about a half hour) and on to Melaque.
What struck me as being strange about the entire event was the lack of a sense of fun. Smiles seemed forced. Maybe with the realization that the "pursuit of happiness" is an American myth, not a Mexican tale. But all of that changed once the parade made its way to Melaque and dark fell on the celebrations.
The music pumped up. The laughter became louder. All because, I suspect, the drink started flowing. That would be my conclusion based on the obvious weaving of the parade SUVs once they started their slow progress back to Barra de Navidad.
In the seven years I have lived here, this is the first Carnaval parade I attended. I may even show up next year.