Carnaval should evoke thoughts of a religious-holiday-turned-giant-feast-and-parade-and-possibly-exhibitionist-show. Before last weekend, I didn’t really know much about it, except I assumed it was another word for Mardi Gras, with the celebration in New Orleans every year. Or maybe it was Brazilian, with the Rio Carnival every year. If it was a period of time in the Christian Church calendar, it would be right before Lent, right? Right.
So when Andrea invited me to go to a Carnaval celebration on Sunday — this past Sunday, Palm Sunday, for those keeping score at home — I was a bit perplexed. She tried to explain that Carnaval, in many rural areas of France, was a huge festival from November until Easter. Each town picks a weekend for their parade and street party. Everyone in the town dresses up, and the parade draws performers and entries from the surrounding towns as well as from Carnaval troupes who travel around and put a float in every parade they can. Ok, sooo, what is it?
We got there early. Well, we got there on time, but that’s early in France. There was a boulangerie in the center of town blasting dance music for the four workers that were setting up, the face painters that had done one design so far, the deflated moon walk, and the three families that had kids running around, only half of whom were dressed up in synthetic cowboy or ninja or Disney princess costumes. ‘Course, there were also the women who were dressed as provacative nuns and Wonder Woman with too much skin showing. So we sat in the sun, tried to get out of the line of fire from the pounding bass speakers, and watched Silly String and confetti battles start with the children who were arriving. For an hour. We gave up and started walking back to the car.
But our car was along the parade route, and the first float was just coming down! A little brass band heralded the arrival of “Miss Carnaval” and “Miss 2010.” (Yes, that is what the sashes said.) And then…
Gotta love Disney. Point of interest: the guy driving the tractor (and yes, surprisingly enough, all the tractors looked like that…ALL of them) was wearing an orange sweater with a white stripe. There were also the requisite sight gags, mostly:
…A manly French man giving a public strip tease to another manly French man. Anyone care to psychoanalyze this? Then, of course, we have my personal favorite, the throwback to the 1950s. In America.
Please note the expression of the one driving the tractor. I’m not entirely sure what it says, but it’s hysterically funny.
All in all, the parade was pretty good, if a swift 20 minutes. Still didn’t understand why it took place during Lent. And why, if it was indeed on Palm Sunday, there were no palms. Or even donkeys. Both of which are amusingly prevalent in this area.
I will leave you with this image, which proves that there should have been a disclaimer posted in town that said something to the effect of “In order to participate in or view the parade, or take place in any of today’s festivities, you must submit yourself to a constant barrage of Silly String and confetti. And you must not complain.”