Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 8 - Spellbound!

Today was Carnival! Carnival in Haiti is bustling with colors and sounds, and nowhere are those colors more vivid than in the Southern seaside town of Jacmel. The city’s paper mache artisans design new costumes every year for the parade: devils, dinosaurs, animals, buildings… and politicians!

Traditionally the costumes are making fun of the political figures, corporations and the man; policemen, bankers. During the day we walked around and saw the paper mache masks and costumes. What I loved was that this was not hidden. No surprises. The artisans are proud to share their work. We were able to see the artisans at work and then later see them in the parade…like a show.

Carnival is like Mardi Gras; that’s what people say since I haven’t been yet, whether it be funny or scary, carnival-goers become spellbound. Throughout the day and night, we immersed ourselves in magical, other times burlesque, whim-sical and even the devilish world of Jacmel’s Mardi-Gras.

During the day we watched the parade from the street outside the restaurant we ate at and at times came inside the restaurant gate to chill out or to run from the scary scene. Other times we jumped right into the parade with the participants to sing, dance or act out with them! Some of us went up to the balcony to watch from afar. This view felt exciting, exhilarating and safe. During this time up top, there was one fight that broke out but all was well once authorities came to help break it up.

In the evening some of us went back for the nightlife. If you don’t mind sweaty bodies, an incredibly large crowd and loud music with thousands of people swaying in unison then you would love the thrill of Carnival at night! At one point I closed my eyes and I could have been anywhere. I could have been in a NYC nightclub but instead I was here in the streets of Jacmel with the Haitian community celebrating a European tradition from medieval times.

It was a thrilling day today in Jacmel! How magical that we were here for Carnival!! But then again, it’s been magic since we stepped foot off the plane onto Haitian soil. At Carnival we were spellbound!

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