Carnaval La Paz 2013 – Mysteries of the Seas – February 7 - 12, 2013
The Top Acts Performing each night of Carnaval La Paz 2013 (Spanish)
Carnaval La Paz - 2013 will be February 07 to 12, 2013. The weather is shaping up well for Carnaval La Paz with daytime temps Thursday through Saturday near 80 and evenings in the mid to upper 50's. No rain is in the forecast, so it looks like it will be a great stretch of weather for Carnaval La Paz!
Following the Easter calendar, Carnaval usually ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 13. This makes a second week of February occurrence of Carnaval very early this year. Ash Wednesday can fall as early as February 4th ( next in 2285AD) and as late as March 10, (next in 2038AD)
In 2004 Carnaval was moved to two weeks following the normal date as Baja California Sur elections also fell on that date. Election days are 'dry days' and 'dry' and Carnaval are bad bedfellows!
*Please note the correct spelling is - "Carnaval" meaning the end of carne (meat) for the period of Lent. It is spelled BOTH ways in this article for the benefit of Search Engines.
Most of the events are centered around the Esplanade and along the Malecon, although events and stages will be in place in many locations along the waterfront. The Parades will be Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, starting from opposite ends of the Malecon. Vendors will begin setting up as early as Monday, February 04 and traffic will be narrowed to one lane along the Malecon on Wednesday.
If you are coming to La Paz during Carnaval expect lots of people, lots of fun, traffic challenges and the thumping of bass music until the early morning hours from the 7th to the 12th. The sun usually rises on the last party goers on the weekends and the serious business of La Paz usually gets put on hold.
History of Carnaval La Paz
I did a little research on the origination of the word "carnaval". The general consensus is that it evolved during the middle ages, as part of the Roman Catholic ritual of lent. It gets a little more vague after that.
The Venetian seem to claim the most palatable explanation. The Shrove Thursday celebration is closely related to the history of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, consequently to the victory over Ulrico, Patriarch of Aquileia.
Ulrico's troops had attacked Venice while the "Serenissima" was busy fighting another war against the Ducati of Padova and Ferrara. Italy was a lively place, at that time.
After the defeat, Ulrico of Aquileia, had to pay the Venetians one bull and 12 pigs, as war reimbursement. (I wish invading Iraq had been so cheap!)
So, from that moment on, the tradition was established of "executing" every year that same amount of animals in the San Marco square, and all the population participated to the feast, banquet, dances, acrobats. I found this story stretched even a little further: Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, carnevale — which means “to put away the meat.” As time passed, Carnaval evolved. Carnavals in Italy became quite famous; and in fact the practice spread to France, Spain, and all the Catholic countries in Europe. Then as the French, Spanish, and Portuguese began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their tradition of celebrating carnaval.
What ever the historical interpretation of Carnaval I found one wood cut dating from the middle of the last millennium that translated distinctly. The imagery of the wild horse, the moon forming horns over the reveler's head, all that can be interpreted in different ways. The open purse dumping money on the ground is universal. With food, rides, cerveza, tequila, novelties and just plain Carni-crap free flowing, it's easy to loose hold of the purse strings.
One thing to consider when you are walking through the press of the crowds is that carnaval gathers the dark side of Baja in the same place. Mind your purse, camera's and wallets when out at night. The security provided by the local polica, state police and military will be vigilant and ever present .
The press of the crowd can be overwhelming at times. I'm a big guy and years ago the crowd swept me down the Malécon, literally off my feet, some 1/2 a block past my waiting friends. I found carnaval more enjoyable in the earlier hours, before all the cerveza and tequila had a chance to soak into the crowd.
The evening parade is one of the highlights of the carnaval. Sunday though Tuesday at dusk the parade marches down the Malecon.
There is a reading, opening night and again on Sunday, by the winning poet laureate in "The Game of Flowers or Florals". The Game of Florals goes back to 169 B.C.E. Roman times, when a competition was held for the street poets, troubadours and bards where the winner was awarded a golden flower encrusted with gems, of which to give the lady of his choosing. The competition was dedicated to the Roman goddess Flora and is most likely the origin of the term, 'to use flowery words'.
There is a king and queen. Some of the most beautiful women and a handful of men in La Paz come out of the woodwork to compete for this honor. The queen and her court ride on one float. Picking a winner has to be an incredibly difficult job, they are each flawless Baja Beauties. The parade King rides a few floats behind with his court. Funny enough though, there seemed to be a few more chicas on his float to keep the crowd watching and the queen on her toes.
Becoming queen is serious business in La Paz too. In 2010 it was rumored that a family member of the Royal Runner Up let the air out of the tires of the Queens float. But who knows, it was just rumor, but it held up the parade for nearly 40 minutes.
Always keep your eye on the parade. There are larger gifts sometimes hurled to or from the crowd, like full, chilled cans of beer or soda. These gifts are much more appreciated when caught with the hand instead of the back of your head.
First. you have to understand that driving an 18 wheeler for Corona, Modelo or Pacifico pretty much puts you in the same crowd as Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretski in Mexico. Not only do you work with cerveza but you get PAID for it!
The floats in the parade are sponsored by major players in many different industries, Telcel, banks, race teams and civic organizations. Tossing candy and the occasional full can of beer to the crowd they went their way down the Malecon in their annual PR bust.
The first year I was here a fist fight broke out between the parade organizers and representative drivers from at least two different beer companies. Why? It was unclear or unacceptable as to which company would lead off the parade.
Organizers alternate parade routes, so each end of town sees the parade first. But they have three days of parades and three beer companies, each wanting to lead off the parade.The solution was three parades that night. One beer company lead the way. Then there was a long pause. Many observers assumed that that was it, and started wandering down the street towards the main events at the Municipal Pier area. Soon the sea of humanity was parted, and another set of flashing lights and motorcycles ushered the second then third segments of the parade down the street.
There were some interesting stage shows happening at the main stage at the foot of 16th de Septembre, near the municipal pier. Big name Latin acts appeared nightly. National television broadcast at least one night from the main stage. I don't recognize many of the entertainers, but I have developed a taste for a dozen Latina lovelies leaping about the stage in spandex and a handful of sequins. There was a little more local talent on the main stage this year including our local Polynesian dance academy students.
The food, the aromas and the diversity of people you see at carnaval make it the event. The carnaval rides are fun for many, I watched a leaky hydraulic support rise and fall from the ground as 30 or so screaming hi-G riders whirled overhead spewing change (and sometimes more) through the crowd. I chose to remain on the ground and save my 5 pesos. But then again, I jumped off a 300' bridge in Colorado with a rubber band on my feet for much more money.
The location of the carnival rides is in question at the pressing of this article. Several of the adult skill level rides are parked near the Hotel Los Arcos at the SW end of the Malecon, rather than the usual vacant lot location near the NE end of the Malecon activity.
Can't miss the blanket auctioneers. Selling blankets like they aren't going to make anymore tomorrow, these guys sell combination stacks at break neck speed. With home modified microphones blaring though sound systems Jimmy Page discarded four decades ago you soon discover that every phrase in Spanish ends in an "S". Yet there are those ardent blanket buyers who stand there, right in front of the speakers, waiting patiently for the auctioneer to package the "Elvis" bedspread with the Winnie the Poo comforter, then loose his mind and lets them sell for the ridiculous price of $180 pesos. (I found the prices a bit better than retail, best on the last two days of the carnaval)
It's a piece of Mexico folks, if your in the area, don't miss out. If you missed out we'll see you next Carnaval!