Now where can I go in this whole Carnival-loving continent where they won´t be celebrating in the streets for four days at the upcoming pre-lenten drunken revelry time? One thing is for sure…I´ll be long gone from Cuenca, Ecuador where they go to great lengths to splash water all over everyone they can. Mardi-Gras doesn´t happen for two weeks, February 21- 24, but the celebrations, parades, and fireworks started yesterday. Not the water-splashing, thank goodness.
Admittedly, I´m a serious party-poop when it comes to Carnival/Mardi-Gras. Let´s blame my New Orleans childhood years between 6th and 8th grade where I saw enough of the real thing to last a lifetime. That, and my aversion to loud music and all-night noise adds up to being in the wrong country at the wrong time and I´m going to have to get very creative in my itinerary to dodge this bullet. Maybe, if I can whisk through Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu in the next two weeks and then fly to an Amazon jungle lodge in Puerto Maldonado for those raucous days, I can minimize the exposure.
Yesterday, as I was exploring a new part of the city, I ran smack into a very long parade made up of kids from the many schools in the area. I took many pictures of those dressed in the various indigenous costumes as they danced in the streets. Today, along came another long and loud parade, also made up of schoolchildren, teachers and parents. Both were accompanied by heavy artillery fireworks and many loud bands. Again, more photo opps. I thought that these dates must be significant to the educational systems of the town, but my English-speaking waiter said that it was simply part of the preliminary to the great celebration of Carnival, still two weeks away.
Today, I moved up in the world, yet again; all in the name of shaking this chest cold which I earned in the mountain frozenness of Cotopaxi Volcano about ten days ago. I´m now residing in a 4-star hotel, in a private room for $29.28, eating their free breakfasts and fixed menu lunches for $3.00. This fairly common practice in the nice restaurants is to offer soup, rice, chicken, beans or salad, drink and dessert for just a few dollars. Always delicious and filling.
I plan to devote the next blog to my Spinal Analogy as it applies to the Andean Mountain chain, but I didn´t bring my map along to the internet to refer to. Plus, the guy in the booth next to me is playing some music in annoying bursts and that splinters thinking.