¡Carnaval en Ocozocuatla!
Disclaimer aside, I will humbly attempt to describe what I saw of the carnaval.
I went to Ocozocuatla on Sunday afternoon as my friend Tomas told me he is dancing in the carnaval. While still on the bus, the streams of people heading toward Centro told me that this is a serious event. I was not mistaken. The main square was thronged with people and processions of spectacularly costumed 'para chicos' who danced around to the festive music of those oversized wooden zylophones (see previous post). Before I get to the costumes, I need to set the scene. In the crowd, many people were flinging talcum powder, confetti or other substances wildly onto everyone near them (Visine should have been the official sponsor of the event.) Others had cans of that fake snow which they were generously spraying into the crowd or the faces of total strangers. Fortunately I had cleaned my glasses just before coming.
And then there were the 'para chicos'. No one I know seems to be really sure what 'para chicos' are, but they are part of every parade and celebration in this area. The costumes ranged from breathtaking to completely surreal. Every square centimetre of their bodies were covered in some garish but beautiful decoration. They had layers and layers of brightly coloured material, bells, flowers, necklaces of chiclet boxes and of course those unbelievable masks that are both effeminate and disproportionate. Accessories included guns, alarm clocks, dead animals (stuffed, I think), telephones, whips and my friend Heather's used lufa (really - I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried). The complexity of the costumes and the fact that they could somehow dance around in them for hours was astonishing, but what left me speechless (a rare occurrence) was the set of para chicos in Snow White costumes. Salvador Dali would have been shocked. I actually don't have a picture because I was rendered unable to move at the sight of them (true story).
The part of the events that I witnessed seemed to be a series of parades of the various groups of para chicos. There were booths with food and games and probably many more things I didn't see, but I enjoyed myself immensely. After a couple hours of being at the event in Centro, my friend Mauro invited me to his place for lunch and we hung out there for the afternoon. Mauro presented me with a para chico mask as a momento. Even without it, I am sure that the days events won't be forgotten anytime soon.
The final picture is one of Tomas, a PE teacher at the school. He is the one carrying Heather's lufa. She discarded it several months ago and he retrieved it from her garbage and has had it ever since. This is actually the second blog it has appeared in and it seems as if Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame is coming true for discarded shower items.
By the way, the entire event takes place to honour a saint in the Catholic Church. No one I spoke to knew who he was.