Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's Carnaval Time

This year Billy and I decided to visit Merida for Carnaval with a group of friends. After doing a little research, we learned this was the first year that Carnaval would be held outside of the city, the end of a Merida tradition. Many local residents were upset about the change, but we decided to check it out with an open mind.

Upon arrival, we couldn’t help but feel like we were at Jazz Fest meets Mardi Gras. The new location was a fair ground in a rural town, accustomed to hosting big events and large crowds. There were food booths and concerts set up with different areas to visit like a car show, clothing vendors, and a fair for kids. As far as the parades, think somewhere between Morgan City and New Orleans parades. Also, replace marching bands with Sol and Tecate promo girls. There were promotional floats for pretty much anything you can think of, including a Cup of Noodles “sexy” model on the supermarket float (yes I said supermarket float.)

Unfortunately they did not throw beads, but they did give out some free beer. Beer > Beads. Jenny caught a tortilla warmer which I'm sure will come in handy in Mexico. Free goodies aside, one thing I really enjoyed about the Merida Carnaval was the different King/Queen categories. They had senior citizen, teen, and mentally/physically disabled royalty all strutting their stuff throughout the parade route. You could see how proud they were to be a part of the big celebration.

We went to two parades, Friday and Saturday. Although the parades were nearly identical with a few costume changes, the two experiences were totally different. To my surprise, Friday started with a great parking spot and scoring front row seats for the parade. When we stopped to buy beer, we learned that for less than a $1 more, you could buy an ice chest! Sold. We walked around, enjoying the fair ground and drinking a few beers. We took our seats for the parade which was entertaining, and by the end of the night, we had a good time. Merida did it right. 

Sunday we knew that we had our fill of parades and decided to take it easy in the city. Merida has a lot of charming activities on Sunday like the bicycle ride and live music in the town squares. We had a great weekend with friends, and I’m glad that Billy and I were able to see what Carnaval is all about. We missed Mardi Gras for the first year ever, but Carnaval in Merida was the next best thing. 

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