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Latin America Jamila Dispatch

Can I Stay for Carnival?

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Mexico
Jaramar

On the way from the ancient ruins of Palenque to the ancient ruins of Chichén-Itzá, Klaus and I took some time-out from our "ruin-hopping" to stop by the town of Mérida, capital of the Yucatán state in Mexico. If you want to see just where we are and where wešll be going, check out our route in the Odyssey map section.

Carnaval
Caption
In just two weeks, Meridians will be celebrating one of the most anticipated festivals of the year,"Carnival". This is a celebration when Mérida "lets down its hair" to party hard and dance in the streets all night long! The concept of Carnaval is similar to Mardi Gras and the infamous Carnival in Brazil, which are both also celebrated at this time of year. For Carnival Merida-style, families will get together for eight exciting nights of fun and festivities. How does this sound to you?

Believe it or not, Carnival actually has a religious significance. The festivities begin the week before Lent (40 days before Easter, when personal religious sacrifices are supposed to take place--no dancing, no partying, etc). Lent is a time of reflection, a time to relinquish your personal cravings. But before this period of purification...its PARTY TIME!!!

The most exciting aspects of Carnival are the wild costumes, colorful floats, and people dancing in the streets. All over Merida, fabric stores are brimming with tinsel, feather boas, masks and other doo-dads that will be flaunted throughout the celebration.

Carnaval
Caption

On the first day, the king and queen of Carnival are presented to the city on colorful floats. This is followed by a ceremony where "bad mood and humor" are burned by igniting fireworks. Throughout the week there are a variety of parades that take place. Each parade has a different theme. The Regional parade sounded especially interesting to me. In this parade everyone dresses in traditional Yucatecan dress known as "terno". The men look quite dashing in their white shirts, or "guayaberas"(also known as "filipinas") and white pants.

The last day of Carnival is probably the most exciting--yet the most depressing‹for this is when the party has to come to an end. On this day, a stuffed mannequin representing the king of Carnival is burned. The queen, his widow, reads his last will and testament, bringing the festivities to an end because, alas, the following day is Ash Wednesday (sigh).

The celebration kicks off on February 10, but unfortunately we won't be around to see it. However, if you like to dance like I do, this sounds like the ideal place to be! By the way, what costume would you wear?


Jamila - On Top of the World in Palenque
Klaus - Dealing in Facts
Team - When and Where the Maya Thrived
Jamila - Chichén Itzá: The Jewel of the Yucatán
Two Vegetarians in a Meat Market
Monica - Posing and Shopping in Guatemala


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