Monday, March 2, 2015

Carnival, the Mardi Gras of Mazatlan

                Carnival, the Mardi Gras of Mazatlan
            The 117th annual Carnaval! This year the theme is Los Suenos del Rey Momo—the Dreams of the King. Momo—a  mythological Greek god who wore masks of satire, mockery, and censure, the god of writers and poets.

Carnival in Mazatlan, similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a riotous round of celebration and merry-making with abandon, which screeches to an abrupt stop on Tuesday night. Ash Wednesday ushers in Lent, the forty day period of penitence and fasting in somber preparation for the joys of Easter. Parties, parades, fireworks, dancing and songfests, a unique blending of traditional, religious and modern festivities. Smaller family events juxtapose with crushing crowds along the Malecon, the ten kilometer walkway along the waterfront. One may partake in official community fiestas, rub elbows with kings and queens. Feast on gourmet food. Watch a naval battle fought with fireworks.  Burn the Bad Humour in effigy. Always, for everything, there is music. 

            Jostling passengers, many in costume, crowd onto the buses, striving to get from here to there, to be part of the fun. Streets fill with a melee of cars, transport vehicles and eager people afoot, hustling in every direction to participate in as many activities as possible.  

            Me? I’m still housebound in recovery from surgery. But I see a lot from my doorway, from my window to the world. And I rely upon those who venture out. Friends and neighbors drop in daily to regale me tales of their own activities and mishaps.

            This year is rare and unique in that Carnival embraces Valentine’s Day. 

            Saturday night, Valentine’s Day, every table and barstool in the restaurants along Sabalo Cameron and adjacent streets, were reserved and filled. I got this straight from the horse’s mouth. My neighbor Ted, who waited until the last minute, had to trudge both sides of the street to find a place to take his girlfriend, Theresa, to celebrate with dinner and dancing.

            Across the street from my casita, a wedding party, one couple of hundreds eager to tie the knot of matrimony on the Day of Love in Mazatlan, had booked the Spectaculare. All day I watched trucks unload food, drinks, ice, pastries, flowers, decorations and band equipment. While beautifully dressed men and women entered through the front door, young band members gathered around the back steps warming up, tuning instruments, practicing bits and pieces of numbers for the night.

            Promptly at nine o’clock, stragglers streamed into the building and wedding festivities began. I went to sleep. At two-thirty I jerked awake to shouts, laughter, music of the party after the party, as young people continued to celebrate in the extra-wide street. Loudly. With great vim and vigor, for two hours, they celebrated. Nobody came and stopped them. No neighbors protested. No police slowed to check them out. Such street parties are a normal part of Mazatlan life. As suddenly as it began, promptly at four-thirty, seemingly for no reason, somebody turned off the noise faucet, the young men and women scooted into cars, and drove away. Instant quiet. I fell asleep.

            Next year, ah, next year, I have a plan. I vow to join the festivities of Carnival. I cannot think of one more body part that needs to be replaced, with the possible exception of my brain. After years of acquaintance, I’m quite comfortable with my quirky brain. I think I’ll keep it!

My plan: I shall rent a hotel room across the street from the Malecon, preferably in front of one of the three-story high statues depicting a figure based on the Carnival theme.  From my balcony perch above the action, without being jostled by the crowds, I shall watch the parades. At street level, bands will continuously play on one of the numerous stages.  

In the rare moments when not so much is happening, I’ll enjoy the sweep of the bay, watch the ferry sail into harbor from La Paz. Perhaps I’ll see a floating city, one of the cruise ships, alight like a Christmas tree in the distance. I shall enjoy every moment of the raucous crowds with noise the entire night. I’ll brew another pot of coffee. Who needs sleep! I’ll dress in finery, flounces of feathers, ribbons and bows. When the Malecon is crowded I shall wave and bow, as if I am somebody.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

February 19, 2015

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