Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Off to the CARNIVAL!

Shrove Tuesday – a day off – Yay! Forget the pancakes… this is CARNIVAL! Of course carnival here is not just a one day event. The whole thing takes months of preparation. Seamstresses slave, burning the midnight oil to make extravagant costumes; bands and dancers practice and prance for endless hours; drag queens mince and pout till their eyelashes can flutter no more. The whole of Tenerife is a hive of carnival activity.

The main procession is at 4pm. It’s 3pm now. I look in the mirror, anticipating the metamorphosis about to take place. The precedent for carnival costumes is a noble one, dating back to the 13th century Venetians, with their elegant masks. Tradition weighs heavy as I survey my reflection and ready my mind. A deep breath, eyes shut, head bowed. I feel positively thespian. And then it is done. Head erect, once again. Slowly I open my eyes to inspect… I smile. Perfect. My wig is green, bright and very, very frizzy.

We jump in the car. As I turn the ignition a large raindrop splats on the windscreen. My wife and I look at each other and silently agree that we have just witnessed a joint hallucination. It was not rain.

We drive off. Santa Cruz is an hour away. Splat, splat. I drive faster, but the splats are following us. Eventually I give in to reality and turn on the windscreen wipers. Just because it is raining in the South, does not mean it is raining in the North. I should win medals for my optimism.

Then we stop. We all stop. And start. And stop. It’s already 5pm and we’re stuck. We weren’t expecting our first procession of the day to be here, on the motorway. And the splats have turned into one large, continuous splosh. But we are in carnival mood and the in-car atmosphere is still jolly.

5:30pm. We have advanced a further 500m. The conversation has turned to Christian festivals. Carnival is a precursor to lent. We start to get into theology. Two atheists, one ex-catholic, the other ex-orthodox and we’re debating about the modern protestant perception of Christianity. Obviously we’re both experts.

5:40pm. We’ve stopped debating. Now we’re arguing. Both of us have changed sides at least three times and we’re getting into repetition. We decide to phone a protestant to ask them. We scroll through the phone’s memory. Stupidly, I have neglected to record anyone’s religion. After this failure to call a witness to the stand, we lapse into silence.

5.50pm. We see the saddest person in the world. We both feel deeply sympathetic. He is a policeman standing forlornly by the road and he has been given a little red flag to wave. We imagine him, only this morning, showing up bright and eager to perform his civic duty on a carnival day. He is given a little red flag, and he looks forward to a busy day of self-important flag waving. Perhaps directing carnival floats, or waggling his little flag at over exuberant revellers. Perhaps he even phoned his wife excitedly, to tell her that he had been given his own flag to wave at carnival. She was probably so proud. And then they deposited him beside the rainy motorway, miles from the carnival. All by himself.

6:30pm. Finally we arrive in Santa Cruz, having been diverted onto a winding country road, due to an unforeseen puddle on the motorway. We drive into the centre of the city, and suddenly our luck changes. We find a parking place less than 50 metres from the carnival route.

6:35pm. We are told the carnival has been postponed due to bad weather.

6:40pm. On the way back south. My wife consoles me. There’s more carnival on Saturday and Sunday… and then the Carnival comes south soon. I will still get to wear my rather dashing green, frizzy wig. I smile back weakly and ask if I can also have a little red flag.

5 Comments:

Blogger Pamela said...

Well, they are "casi seguro" that the parade will happen on Saturday instead now. That is when the kids parade is supposed to happen, so, fingers crossed, you might get two for one.

Don't worry, I am sure all the other people in that traffic jam were doing the same as you. News, as usual here, travelled mighty slow!

I had the TV on all day so that I could catch the parade as soon as it started and it was only when I realized, at around 5.30, that they were still showing normal programs on all channels that summink was up.

I only heard a confirmation of the cancellation on the news at around 6 ish and posted my update right away.

2:17 am  
Blogger PI said...

We have a Carnival in Bridgwater but have yet to go as the weather is usually gloomy and it is quite a drive. Rather like yours.

10:16 pm  
Blogger Tenerife Scribbler said...

Hi Pamela, I have recovered now :) Back to the fray on Saturday, though. Bet I don't park within 20km though.

BTW, sweet pic... did you think the wine shlurping pic was giving a bad impression?


Hi Pi, sorry about your washouts. But they are regular and predictable. If you read Pamela's blog, you'll see that we are all in a state of denial here about the weather. We know it is good, despite reality constantly suggesing otherwise.

1:05 pm  
Blogger GC PHILO said...

Maybe you can incorporate a little red flag into your Carnival costume too... As a sort of sign of solidarity. What a poor bastard!

1:37 pm  
Blogger Tenerife Scribbler said...

The carnival finally happened on Saturday, and if I'd mamaged to win my war with flickr, I'd have posted the pics. Unfortunately... I didn't have time to get a limp red flag together. Next time, maybe :)

10:10 am  

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