Monday, February 24, 2014

¡Carnaval! -- by Josh

February is carnaval time around the Catholic world, and the Dominican Republic is no exception.  Luckily, though the city of San Francisco de Macorís (SFM) has an extremely high murder rate and there are occasionally minor and major protests and riots against the government, it turns out that SFM has one of the most civilized carnaval celebrations in the country.
After some terrifying run-ins with whip-cracking hooligans in Santiago and stories of physically abusive demons in La Vega and other parts, Zora was terrified when she saw another of the carnaval clubs mosying down our street.  Our neighbors were all out for the impromptu parades, but Zora demanded that we go inside.  I had no intention of missing out on the fun, and actually planned to follow the dancers downtown to the big party in the park.
Weeping, sobbing, Zora insisted that we go home, but we pushed through and ended up having a great time!
I know it's a horrible finger pic but it's the only one I managed to snap of my very favorite costume. It's a crazy guy dressed up as a jungle with real plants! He just stood there while all the other clubs walked by, and was there in one spot for at least an hour.  My favorite was that kids would occasionally pick up the spritzer that he'd positioned nearby in order to water him.
Zora decided to stay in character at dinner.

All through the park there were girls walking around back to back, or with their hands over their butts, trying to protect themselves from marauding boys and the "pig bladders" they like to smack people with.  I loved that these girls had teamed into a group of 3 and actually had armed themselves in order to hit the boys right back.


The crowd in front of our lovely city hall.

Zora was on her dad's shoulders as well to see the action over the crowd. Today I found out from a student that she'd seen us on the local TV channels coverage of the event. I guess we stick out.

Zora was NOT happy about the approaching carnaval club.

When we got to the vendors' area, Max went for the weapon, determined to attack his neighborhood friends. Zora chose the more peaceful route.

I was attracted to this crew by their DIY traditional style. I gave the nice woman my card and she said she'd already been to the library and wanted to work with us in the near future for her group's social project. Cool!

Dancers coming down the street in front of our house.

Don't worry, the paintball gun is empty. SFM people are kind at heart.
Party in El Capacito!