It’s Lent now. Carnavals the world over are done and dusted. Costumes are stored away, and the Lenten fasting has begun (Carnaval is supposed the time to be using up the fats and goodies before Lent). Or has it?
Not in Los Cristianos it hasn’t. The fun only began a few days back. The travelling fair, of course, was way too busy up in Santa Cruz, at the Carnaval described by some as second only to Rio de Janeiro’s, to have been here for Shrove Tuesday, but last weekend it began to arrive, and the town was buzzing with preparations.
The truth is that many people, having exhausted themselves up in Santa Cruz over the weeks of the “real” carnaval, can’t be bothered with the local one. I’ve been told frequently over the years that this Carnaval is just for the tourists and the children. It certainly seems to be smaller than it used to be. They changed the route some years back, so that the procession is now over with more quickly, and doesn’t weave through the heart of town, which detracts from it somehow.
I had to go to Los Cristianos a couple of times during the week (It’s a place I do my best to avoid these days. My favorite way to describe it is to say that it sold its soul. To compare how it was when I first arrived and how it is now is a whole other post), so it was a quick dash, because the parking is nigh impossible when the fair’s in town, and the car parks are prohibitively expensive for my financial situation. Even so, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps.
Fairgrounds, even when they are in the course of being erected, fascinate me. They are so full of color. To be sure it’s the screams and laughter, and the smell of hotdogs and churros which complete the picture, but with a sky so clear and a mountain backdrop like this, the vibrancy is there even at this stage.
The fair takes over a large site on the edge of town, which one day will be built on, and where it will go after that heaven only knows. You have to wonder if the day of the travelling fair is past, as towns expand, and these vacant lots and spaces are gobbled up by developments. It takes days to get everything up and running. You can see the difference between the first photo and the next, two, which were taken about 3 days apart, from the second floor of an apartment/commercial complex. Given that the festivities go on into the wee, small hours for the best part of a week, I can’t begin to imagine how residents sleep at night.
Around the corner kiosks were arriving and lining up in the street, which is closed to traffic for the duration.
“Duck” shoots and candy floss, baked potatoes, bars and bingo will echo and waft their ways through the night as the celebrations gather momentum. At the end of the street is a stage, where bands will salsa for the nightly verbenas, and folk can dance off the beer and wine. This Carnaval isn’t so much about dressing up as the bigger ones in the north, but it will not lack merriment. A few yards further on, outside the Cultural Center, is another stage, where the Queen of the Carnaval will be chosen. If you’re here on vacation, for sure, you won’t be disappointed. Despite it being in this tourist resort, it is still very much a local event, and not aimed directly at foreigners. It’s authentic.
As you can see from the picture on the left, there are other residential blocks cheek by jowl with what is really an outdoor disco. I imagine that the only way to deal with it if you live so close is to join in!
Me, I haven’t bother too much with Carnaval for a long time now. I wrote about why here. It is, basically, that after that experience nothing can top it. You have to know when something’s time is past because going back can be very disappointing. Still, that was as a participant, and standing on the sidelines as a spectator could never cut it, but in my “new incarnation” (**tongue in cheek there**, people) as a blogger maybe I will see things from a different perspective, and so inshall’ah I shall be standing on the sidelines tomorrow for the big parade…….and I can’t help wondering what photos from the top of this would look like!