Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carnaval: The Corso Parade

As Mérida parades go, this one was no disappointment. It began promptly at 8pm and lasted until 9:15pm. Folks here consider that a short parade as they are used to three hour ordeals. I looked up the word corso and the dictionary translated it into "cruise, cruising, privateering". Could it mean this is just the warmup, as in "just cruisin'"?

The first hurdle is parking. We lucked out because our friend Mike generously offered to let us park in front of the parking garage at his house, thus closing him in or out for the evening. He lives only four blocks from the center of the action. Driving anywhere near the parade route is a series of mazes, traffic jams, and lots of HONKING. (For the life of me I do not understand why people think that obnoxious and continuous honking will unjam the traffic snarl. We just close the windows, turn on the a/c, and turn up the volume...)

These are the seats we found available. We arrived late, at 7pm so we were lucky to find a place at all. We sat on the curb behind this nice police woman holding the crowd back with rope. She had a sense of humor, and got a laugh when someone tossed me a candy from a float and it landed in my beer. "Three points!" I yelled. And she and the policeman standing with her both chuckled. Everyone stands during the parade so we had a nice open vista.

The police presence is impressive. There are temporary tall police stations set up all along the parade route so big brother can keep his eye on everyone. Every fifty feet or so stands a policeman holding the crowd controlling rope. There are municipal, state, judicial and federal police everywhere. The military is also present in bullet proof vests and camouflage suits.

We only detected one minor holdup. The Mambo Five float's battery died in front of us. The repair procedure reminded me of a pit crew in an auto race. Guys came running from all directions, a few rolled underneath with a new battery, and within a short few minutes Mambo Five was rolling again.

This kid had a beautiful smile. I took a lot of photos of floats but they came out blurry because I didn't use the motion setting on my camera. (I forgot my glasses and couldn't see it!) So I did my best to get some T & A in the photos below.

I was on much better behavior this year. Last year I was crazed and stressed and reverted to a 5 year old kid when grabbing loot. Being more self aware this year, I managed to contain myself. The more you dance and yell from the sidelines the better chance you have of getting attention and loot!

The colors and smiles and the energy are contagious. We will be back tomorrow for more!

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