Monday, March 7, 2011

Carnaval in La Paz

If you imagine a stereotypical cross between an old-time country fair and
a family street party with a Latin flair you will come pretty close to Carnaval in La Paz. Cotton candy, balloon vendors, street food and carny rides fill over a mile long section of the bay-front Malecon for five days. The street is closed down to traffic in the evening and open to the people of La Paz to stroll and enjoy.

There are bands, belly dancers, Tahitian dancers, and live entertainment
of all kinds offered at several stages along the Malecon from sundown until the early morning hours. Games of skill and games of chance are offered up by barkers. There's even a large bingo-type game for young and old alike filling the promenade along the east end of the historic La Perla Hotel. All variety of trinkets are for sale, including purses, shirts, lighted head bands, theme-blankets (Winnie the Pooh, etc.) and more. Much of it is likely from Mexico, but I'm pretty certain China also has a presence.

Food and drink can be found all along the fair venue. Ice cream, sodas,
hot dogs, tacos, gorditas de Nata, hot crossed buns, candied fruit and vegetables (including squash and cactus), cold beer and mixed tropical drinks can all be purchased along the route. The restaurants along the way spill tables out onto the street to better attract and serve customers.

There are carnival rides for kids and the young adults (and, admittedly
for some of the less risk adverse older folks). These include everything from miniature Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds to bumper cars (any direction of travel is okay) and 360-degree, hammer-rides for the older kids. The mechanical oversight and overall condition of these rides, while suspect under the best conditions, would cause insurance underwriters in the U.S. to succumb from shock and disbelief. There are even a few side-show acts showing animals that defy description and the "smallest girl in the world".

The last several days of the festival are highlighted by parades featuring
floats with the Queen of Carnaval and her entourage, as well as, floats featuring the junior kings and queens in elaborate costumes and the Queen from the previous year. There are bands on trucks, dancers on floats, dancers in the street and Corona and Pacifico beer trucks serving as spacers between the various groups. Everyone has eggs that have been emptied and refilled with confetti. These are broken over peoples heads or thrown at targets to cover them with confetti as the egg shell breaks and spills its' colorful contents.

It's not the biggest nor the wildest Carnaval celebration in the world, but it does have something to offer for everyone. Every year it is well attended by the people of La Paz and visitors that are lucky enough to be here during this time of year.


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Looks like a great time! We're recuperating from New Orleans Carnival right now.

Karen said...

Mazatlan carnival was pretty excellent too! Hope you're living the life in La Paz...i'm back at my desk in Cape Town (blah!).

Great meeting you guys,
Karen (The Laura Takalani)

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...

Thank you for sharing the celebration ~ great pictures!

Hope you two had a safe flight back down. ttys. xo~m