Tomorrow, being Ash Wednesday, Catholics will begin their observance of Lent, the forty days preceding Easter characterized by withdrawal and reflection. Certainly during Lent no behavior such as has occurred here the last few days will be permitted
Today, Fat Tuesday, Merida businesses have been closed, I suppose so folks can get serious about their final day of Carnaval debauchery. (The word Carnaval reportedly derives from Latin meaning “goodbye meat”.)
Tonight will be the Battle of Flowers, the final parade of Carnaval 2006, which involves a flower fight with the spectators. The parade will be followed by the usual music and dance.
El Macho Grande asked, in a comment to my Friday post, if I have been too hung over to post since then. I can report that I have not over indulged to the point of hangover during the entire celebration, despite the $10 peso beers available at the ubiquitous Sol, Corona, and Modelo booths. In fact, I haven’t even been to any of the parades or parties since Saturday night, when this geezer reached his fill of the shoulder to shoulder crowds.
Thursday afternoon, as I earlier reported, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the young children, in their thematic costumes, and their adult chaperones dancing down the street during the afternoon “Preschool” parade.
Friday evening I walked the three blocks to the Paeso Montejo an hour before the parade to ensure a good seat from which to take pictures. I parked myself at the very end of the top bench of one of the sets of bleachers that had been set up for block after block on the boulevard median.
Soon Nelson, Cynthia, and their young son sat on the end of the top bench of the bleachers across a two foot aisle from my perch and a couple of very innocent looking, obviously shy high school sweethearts took the seats to my left. Introduction were made all around and soon the party began.
It wasn’t long before Nelson climbed down, disappeared into the crowd and returned shortly with three Sols, one of which he handed to me. We sat, drank and chatted as we waited for the parade. Nelson and Cynthia were both very patient with my sometimes inadequate Spanish. Next it was my turn for a trip to the Sol booth, during which I also picked up Cokes for the high school sweeties, who declined the offer of beer.
Pretty soon a rather rotund fellow and his family parked themselves in the aisle between Neslon and me, introductions were made, and he immediately joined in the beer run rotation. Nelson returned from his next beer run with a Sol Carnaval T-shirt which he handed to me and explained that with each 5 empties one gets a T-shirt or hat. So we of course had to accumulate five more for a T-shirt for Neslon.
The Corso Parade, which was almost parenthetical to my Friday evening experience, featured costumed dancing groups and elaborate commercial floats from which generally scantily clad, dancing women and men threw various items into the crowd. My conversations with Nelson, his wife, and the rotund fellow and his sons was far more entertaining.
When I arrived on the Paseo Montejo Saturday evening, for the Fantasy Parade, there wasn’t a bleacher seat to be had so I found a spot in the row between two set of bleachers from which I would have a good view. In short order, a fellow seated on the top seat of the bleachers with his family tapped me on the shoulder and directed me to climb up and sit next to his wife. I thanked him heartily and climbed on up. He and his wife and their three freshly scrubbed and combed children, two boys of about 4 and 5 and an adorable daughter of 11 months, were delightful company.
It wasn’t long before the little girl, bedecked in her crisp pink dress and beaded corn rows, reached over from her mother’s lap and playfully poked me in the cheek. I gave a return poke to her cheek and she burst into giggles. The poking game went on for a bit, until one of her brothers decided to move on down to see what the fun was all about. Once the parade began the little guy, steadying himself with a hand on my shoulder, pointed out and explained the coming parade entries to me. Not that I understood what he was saying. Again the parade, which was pretty much the same as the night before, wasn’t nearly as interesting as was my interchanges with the wonderfully friendly family.
Tomorrow things will return to normal and mostly likely be another great day in the Yucatan.