We went to Dolega yesterday afternoon unfortunately just after the music and dancing ended, and before the nighttime festivities. But, at least we got a bit of a look at what was going on there.
Dolega is just a small town up the road from David. I’m sure the celebrations were nothing like Panama City or the famous Las Tablas where people go by the thousands, and planning goes on all year for the event. But, we at least got a taste of Carnival.
We’ll have to go back again next year. I’d be interested to see the music and dancing, and the water cannons in action. This year we mainly saw a lot of vendors, a lot of very wet people, a few tipsy people, and very happy people with friends and family. There were also groups of people supporting various political candidates dressed in their matching t-shirts. There was a lot of security but I didn’t see anyone having or causing any problems. It was fun to see tipsy people hanging out of bus windows though, waving and shouting at people in the street.
There was a police checkpoint on the highway south of Dolega (we got waved through both ways). When we left I noticed they had some people pulled over on the side of the road. If you want to enjoy lots of cerveza (beer) at Carnival it’s probably a very bad idea to drive.
If you want to know more about Carnival, google should bring up a lot of information. Brazil has the biggest celebrations but Panama is right behind them. Not bad for a small country, eh?
I’ve been to New Orleans many times but never for Mardi Gras. 36* F in New Orleans today, a frigid Fat Tuesday for Mardi Gras crowds. Looks like Panama may be my chance for celebrating Carnival in the warmth. Rio would definitely be out of the question. I’m normally not one for large celebrations with very large crowds of participants, we will see.
I have a friend in New Orleans right now who isn’t sure if she even wants to open the door it’s so cold. The nice thing where we are, it’s just a short drive to Dolega, and when we’ve had enough we can just come back home. I wouldn’t want to go somewhere and party for days with huge crowds, for sure.
Okay, a little bit about Mardi Gras/Carnival season. I lived in New Orleans for nearly 10 years and became steeped in the history of the whole show. The first place to hold Mardi Gras in he continental U.S. wasn’t New Orleans. It was Mobile, Alabama. The area that really celebrates Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday ) is a band roughly 100 miles wide from the Gulf of Mexico north and from a bit east of Mobile Bay on over into west Texas.
Mardi Gras is actually a SEASON, not just one hellacious weekend. It starts the 12th night after Christmas (Epiphany) until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Around the New Orleans area, New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, and Plaqurmines (roughly the Parishes (counties) that surround New Orleans) there are well over 150 different parades held during the Mardi Gras season. There’s no way of telling how many extend out into Cajun country.
Personally I LOVED Mardi Gras. I think all kids in the States LOVE Halloween. A chance to dress up and be silly. Mardi Gras gives adults permission to re-experience that joy. It’s called “Masking.” All through Mardi Gras season there are parties where a special pastry known as a “king cake” is served. It comes with a tiny plastic baby which the host inserts into the cake before it’s cut up and served. Traditionally whomever gets the baby has to throw the next party. People have been known to swallow the baby to avoid having to throw a party. The opening of Al Johnson’s iconic Mardi Gras song ‘Carnival Time’ opens with the lyrics:
The Green Room is smoking, and the Plaza burning down
Throw my baby out the window, let the joint burn down
All because it’s carnival time
Well, it’s carnival time
Well it’s carnival time
Everybody’s having fun
Throw my baby out the window refers, again, to avoiding having to throw a party if you get the baby in your piece of cake.
Down here in Panama, soaking people with water canons is part of their tradition and there’s an explanation for it, too. Did you step outside today? It sure would have felt real good to get hosed down, even though it might dilute the beer.
As 4Sarge noted, it was a lousy day for Mardi Gras with temps in the mid 30s and rain. Yuck!
Thanks for all the info about Mardi Gras! I’ve always heard about it but never went, or knew much more than it was a huge street party.
I will continue my research on Carnival next year 😀 I doubt we’ll have to worry about temps in the 30’s!