In the months leading up to mid-February, I went to sleep frequently to the sound of music. It comes with the territory in Mexico. From Virgin of Guadalupe Day (December 12) right through to Epiphany (January 6), Mexico is one long fiesta: a time to loosen your belt, let down your hair, and party down. Mexicans jokingly refer to it as the “Guadalupe to Reyes (Epiphany) marathon.”
This year, though, with Easter—and therefore Carnaval—coming so early, we didn’t stop at Reyes. Instead, we headed almost immediately into Carnaval parties.
Make no mistake: Having fun is hard work. The big meals, the dancing practice, the outfits. Here in Campeche, where I live, just about every kid seems to get the chance during Carnaval to be King or Queen of Something. The honor comes complete with a costume, a crown, courtiers (often their BFF, in matching costumes), and a ride in a flower-bedecked convertible or float during one of the many parades. Needless to say, there’s no shortage of photo ops for the proud parents—partial compensation, I suppose, for all the money they shell out (the big meals, the dancing practice, the outfits….).
And all that doesn’t even include the concerts, exhibitions, and other activities that go on. We’ve had at least a couple of concerts a week since early December in Campeche, many of them in the band shell in the park near me.
We’ve also had sculpture exhibitions in the centro histórico, along the newly-pedestrianized stretch that runs from the Sea Gate to the Land Gate. Restaurants on this stretch have installed outdoor tables, where locals and tourists can have a drink while enjoying the sea breeze that wafts up the Sea Gate from the Gulf of Mexico.
With all this activity, winter here is pretty lively. (And it boggles my mind sometimes to recall that Campeche’s Carnaval is actually pretty small beer as Carnavales go… nothing on the scale of the famous ones like Veracruz’s, or Merida’s, or Mazatlan’s.)
After three months of parties, I was definitely ready for Lent and some downtime: 40 days to work off the holiday calories and get some sleep.
Because, come Easter, it all starts up again when the Easter holidays kick off the beach season.
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