From a letter to a friend. Thought it would be interesting for others too.
Sorry, no photos.
Here we are surrounded by big and little cities with celebrations of all kinds. We’ve decided to stay put with only a short venture into Las Minas for food, beer, lunch… From the very little we’ve seen during our daytime adventures, better not go experience it at night when the real locos come out! In many cities, people gather in the center square and drink. The fire department is there with their huge trucks that spray the crowds with water. Everyone gets soaked! I assume this is to avoid heat stroke since it is very hot in some places right now and the crowds are so big. I’ve been told that once in the crowd, no getting out. I’ve also been told that going to the toilet is also impossible and, with the amount of beer consumption, people just pee on themselves!!! Maybe this is more the reason for the spraying of the water. Our Italian friend said he felt it was a time of total excess when the rules change. Everything is possible and available. No, we’ll stay in our little finca although that too is not without a price to pay.
On Friday, 100 Jehovah’s Witnesses from a little town about 30 km away showed up. The “action” started on Saturday. They set up a church in the big garge of the finca with drums, guitar, keyboard (all out of tune). We were invited to attend but Just didn’t show up. Not the way I wanted to spend my evening. Services started at 7pm (punctual even). By 9:30 or 10pm I was thanking the spirits that be that we hadn’t gone. The preaching and out of tune music and singing went on til 11!!!!!! Then they ate and chatted. I finally fell asleep, exhausted, around 12:30. Sunday and Monday the frenzy increased. Last night, we heard all kinds of screaming and moaning like the devil was being exorcised from a few people. This was after the woman preacher screamed and hollered for hours. She sounded soooo angry (and scary!). When the services were done around 11 (again punctual!) everyone came to the kitchen for a snack. I thought, “Oh, good. Now I can go to bed.” Wrong! A huge bonfire was lit and the drumming started. At first just playing around. Then, it got fast and furious and everyone was clapping, dancing, singing. From my window I could see a little bit. It really reminded me of Africa. I tried to go to bed but there was no way to sleep so I just played on the computer. I was amazed that the children and adults were all out there together. At precisely 12:30 the drumming stopped and things calmed down for a while. Then a young man started playing the guitar and singing. He was actually very good. I assume he must be the “famous member” because the teens were calling out songs and he would sing while they sang along. Too bad this didn’t take place earlier. I would have enjoyed joining the group to see this young man. Finally at around 1:30am the lights were turned out and everyone settled into bed. This morning, the day started a little later than the other days, but not much, around 7:30.
It’s 10am now. The keyboard is getting warmed up. The out of tune soloist is gearing up! They leave this afternoon. I’m sure the grand finale is coming! I’ll let you know what happens.
This group comes every year for a religious retreat during the baccanalia of carnival, to escape the sinful activities carried on during this time. I’m not sure what happens here is any better.
Having said all that, outside of church, it has been beautiful to see how the group is so family oriented. Children don’t cry. There is always someone: mom, dad, brother, sister, auntie, granny, to hold a baby or child. There have been lots of activities for the children with assistance from the teens and young adults. Everyone helps out with cooking and cleaning, mostly the women but the men are involved too. A few of the children have braved the “dangers” and come to visit us in our apartment.
This is how we are celebrating carnival/Mardi Gras this year. It will be nice to return to the peace and quite we so enjoy here at the granja. This will last until Thursday evening when a group of 30 professors will arrive for a three day Leadership workshop. We experienced this group a month ago. Lots of interesting people. We made friends with a few from the last group. All the same, can’t wait for Monday!
Let me hear how you celebrated carnival or Marci Gras!