Friday, February 01, 2008

Karneval on Isla - 2008

NOTE: If you enlarge your page to 125%, you won't have to click on the individual pictures to see the detail. And you should see the detail!

Karneval was moved up a week ahead of schedule this year. Our Mayoral elections are this Sunday. We just can't have a religious celebration get in the way of that. The Pope won't mind that we screwed around a bit. Whatever the reason, Karneval on the island this year was one fat bust. There was no joy about it. No wild celebrations with people going mad because Lent is just around the corner. Some people tried to get into the spirit but it just wasn't happening.

Nevertheless, with a lot of diligence, I was able to grab some of the moments. I would say better moments, but they are just moments.

It all started last Thursday night. The stage was built, hundreds of chairs were placed in front of it, the beer tents were armed and ready. Vendors had set up food booths on the basketball court next to The Square. I met my friend, Rose, downtown and we went to The Square together to check out opening night.

Lame, like I said. Look at that stage. A bunch of triangular sheets flapping in the wind and a drum set. Whoopee. This picture is of the biggest crowd I could find that night. No glitz. No glamour. No wonder people were less than enthused.

The next day I saw this car getting ready. The driver was busy putting up a two-speaker loudspeaker system on the roof when I took this picture. He had a whole sound system ready to go in the backseat. I thought Senorita Juanita Mendez (as advertised on the hood) was running for Karneval Queen or something. I mean she rated her own personalized car! Imagine my surprise when she showed up and she was like six years old! Notice too how the sign is attached to this relatively new car. Yup. That's that sticky, thin packing tape! I sure would have liked to have been there when he tried to peel it off the car!

The Square usually attracts a jumbled set of vendors for Karneval. This is the only one I saw. She was selling little purses for 15 pesos each. About $1.50 USD. And they looked to be about worth that much too. I found it amusing that when I was there the only person interested in them (for other than blogging purposes!) was this dude! I hope he bought one of the blue ones to go with his shirt.

Monday was supposed to be the big Karneval parade down main street. I went downtown, parked my scooter, locked the front wheel and made my way to main street for the pre-parade extravaganza. About the most extravagant thing I saw was this truckload of big butts. I think they are balloons, but around here you can never be sure.

"She" wasn't alone though on the truck. They squeezed as many of those big butts onto that truck as possible. When I took this picture, most of them were off running around in the crowd. I don't quite get the black face though. Is it supposed to be Caribbean or something? I think the one sitting on the tailgate is a real girl. Hard to say. I am usually pretty good at spotting a drag queen, good or bad, but it was hard to tell where the fake ugly just turned into the real ugly.

Here's the only other float I saw lined up. They made a valiant effort at turning a flat bed trailer into a thing of beauty. They could have used a few glitzy starfish. And a little more organization. Everybody was bossing everybody else on where to stand and what to do. There was no one person in charge. Skimpyly clad chaos.

The male dancers finally just got fed up and retreated to the safety of the truck bed.

They finally got underway. Which is to say that they moved on down the street. Still unorganized. There never really was a parade. Just people randomly driving around and stopping in the road, blocking traffic. Usually traffic is very patient but this year the sound of car horns was deafening. People were just not in the mood to be held up by this crap. And the performers on this float never did anything but argue with each other anyway. No dancing, no music, nothing. I don't know why they even bothered.

But all was not lost. I did get to see two dance troups perform. Of course, when I say "dance" I have my tongue firmly in my cheek. Here we have a troup lining up in front of Jax, getting ready to perform.

Notice the girl in the center of the picture. The one with the fancy tattoo looking thing on her cheek. You'll be seeing more of her later. They were the first ones to perform on the street. Their costumes are supposed to match. Does it look like it to you? Some have already lost their headbands and funky chicken feather thingee. Others have lost their breast medallions. And try not to look at the shoes.

Here they are, all lined up for their first number. Wouldn't you think they would judge their spacing a little better instead of making one poor girl dance in the dirt?

Round and round they go, where to stop they never know!

Here they are in action. A little more rehearsal and a little more enthusiasm would not have gone amiss.

Don't get me wrong. I love the costumes and I know they put in a lot of time, money and a little imagination into them. But c'mon. Girls, you are going to be in the public eye for 6 days. Have a little pride in yourself. Next year, buy that extra half meter of fabric.

Show's over and time to move on down the street. They exchanged their high heel dancing shoes for flip flops, grabbed a refreshment and piled into the back of the truck. Notice the choice of beverage. Also notice the size of the speakers. They were turned up to full volume the entire time. Even with the girls sitting in front of or on them.

If you look just to the left of the truck, it appears that a famous blogger has entered a float in our "parade" also. Just an optical illusion though! I never could quite decide if these girls were tired, bored or just sick of the whole thing. Can't you just see the "why did we bother?" look on their faces.

I didn't really mean to, but I got stuck in line behind them and got blocked and trapped into watching them again. I promised you more of fake tattoo girl and here she is.

She sucked on this candy thing the entire time she was dancing. There just is no substitute for class.

But all was not lost. I wandered around a bit more and came across this truck of kids. Here we have the King and Queen of the troupe. Unfortunately, one of the lesser knowns put her ostrich feather right into the middle of my picture. But you'll get a better look at Ms. Queen in a bit. Again with the black face paint.

These kids were not only cute, they put the grown-ups to shame. They were basically well rehearsed and danced as a team. I laughed out loud more than once at their performances. But a good laugh. Not the "I don't believe this" kind.

Whoever picked these two little hotties to be the lead dancers sure knew what they were doing. Check out the creases on Ms. Queen. She's working them hips and they don't lie! (sorry, Shakira)

Take a look at these moves.

I really got a kick out this bit. About 27 seconds into the video, I got a surprise. I was laughing so hard I could hardly hold the camera.

At one point they formed a circle and everybody got a chance to show their stuff. Much like the old Spotlight Dance on American Bandstand.

But wait. The boys had a little surprise in store for the girls!

At one point, kids were grabbed from the audience and forced to shake their booties along with everyone else. Great fun to watch.

Here we have our King again. This time looking a lot like the little boy he really is. His Dad was telling him to grab his costume and not to forget it. Parts of it had been discarded during the racier bits of the performance. Go find them!

Costumes pieces recovered, time to get back on the truck.

Tuesday night was the grand finale of Karneval. Some big shot Mexican star was performing. B, Adrian, Rose and I headed for The Square early to check things out. And to grab some grub from the vendors over in the basketball court. Here we have Adrian and Rose checking out some of the unusual things for sale that night. By the way, this is a totally unposed, totally candid photo not set up by any blogger type person.

There was not much to see so we headed off to Adelita's to see if we couldn't get some sparkle of our own going! It was Adrian's night off but do you think the tourists would leave him alone? Nope. Cries of "Adrian, dance with us! Adrian, have a tequilla shot with us!" rang out from the tables. Finally he gave in and tripped the light fantastic with one particularly pushy woman.

Around 12:30 AM we decided to head back to The Square. Usually the last night party goes on until 4 AM or later. This is the sight that met us.

Just a few hangers on. The show was long since over. Normally, there is a band that plays on and on or, if not, piped in music. This place is usually crazy with people dancing. Judging from the amount of trash laying around, mostly beer cans, there was not much partying here.

The beer tents were still up and doing a brisk business though. Don't see the throngs of people? It could be because this year, Sol distributor in all their wisdom, decided to only sell beer by the six pack. And to charge 80 pesos. Not many takers. Didn't stop us though. We bought a couple of six packs and handed them out to various friends we saw.

We didn't give these dolls any though. They probably would have gladly accepted one though. Notice that the older ladies pay a lot more attention to the details of their costumes and pulling it all together. Maybe a bit too much white make up around the eyes though. Reverse raccoon.

We didn't give "her" any either. Nice costume though. Until you notice the scruffed up shoes. Would a bit of polish been too much too ask. Details people!

We spotted this headdress from across The Square. I grabbed Rose and cornered him her it and got this picture. Speaking of details, isn't this 2008? Rose is holding the wine bottle that the guy taking the picture was drinking from. She doesn't normally run around with booze in a brown paper bag either.

So there you have it. Another year, another Karneval. There won't be any elections next year so I have high hopes that the celebration will be better than this year. It can't be worse.


CancunCanuck said...

I'm LMAO here Wayne, your commentary made this a great post. Thank goodness the kids were there, they were adorable, love the vids. I think it was kind of a dud here in Cancun too, no one had any great things to say about it. I think moving it really took away from the energy of the event. (And here in Cancun they put it out at Bonfil, can we say drunk driving anyone?)

CancunCanuck said...

I'm LMAO here Wayne, your commentary made this a great post. Thank goodness the kids were there, they were adorable, love the vids. I think it was kind of a dud here in Cancun too, no one had any great things to say about it. I think moving it really took away from the energy of the event. (And here in Cancun they put it out at Bonfil, can we say drunk driving anyone?)

Jonna said...

Oh Wayne! That was hysterical. You had me on the floor after "it was hard to tell where the fake ugly just turned into the real ugly."

Over in Akumal they are all up in arms because election day - and no alcohol sales - is the same day as the Super Bowl!

Here in Mérida, Carnival seems to have gotten off to a good start with the children's parade, the first night parade is tonight. The good news here is that it is not election day, only over in QRoo.

harvestmoon said...

What a shame, Wayne. We headed over to Cozumel for three days of Carnaval and we LOVED it! We aren't huge partiers (with 4 kids) but we never got home before 11pm and had a BLAST. The kids were AMAZING and the adults were too. Only one float was weird, with cammo guys and fake guns shooting at little kids (WTF????) but otherwise it was AMAZING.

Gee. I guess I need to post on my own freaking blog.

Oh, and reading further into your posts (red faced icon; I haven't been around since last November) I'm seriously thinking about the blogger LA thing.

Mad Gringo said...

Love it. The kid vids are perfect.

Michele in Playa said...

OK, this is making me feel a little bit better about our abbreviated Carnival in Playa this year. I stumbled upon it this evening on the way home with my kiddos. I posted a bunch of photos on the blog if you care to see how we do it down here.

Anonymous said...

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