Actually, Lulu and I could give a rip less about a parade. Seen one, you've pretty much seen them all. But, we ARE in Lap Paz at Carnaval and they DO have three parades on three consecutive nights, so we felt like we really SHOULD go see at least one of the parades.
So, with the best of intentions, we headed downtown yesterday to see the first of the three parades.
The first obstacle to overcome is to try to decide exactly when the parade is supposed to start. According to the Baja Insider and the Baja Citizen, all the parades were to start at 5:00 PM. However, according to an announcement we heard on the cruisers' net the other morning, they were starting at 7:00. Now, does that mean that they are scheduled to start at 5:00 but since this is Mexico they wouldn't really start until 7:00? Or were they really going to start at 5:00? Or 7:00? We decided to believe that it would start somewhere around 5:00 since that was the word from actual sources rather than just some anonymous schmo on the net. Obstacle #1 overcome.
The next obstacle was to decide where the parade was starting. The malecon is pretty long. The first and third parades are supposed to start at one end and the 2nd parade is supposed to start at the other. But which end? The Baja Insider said that #1 & #3 would start at the Windmill end and #2 would start at Marquez De Leon (our end).
OK, quick sidebar:
Go to Google maps and pull up a map of "La Paz, BCS, Mexico". I tried to include one but it loaded soooooooo slowly that I finally gave up. Anyway, see the street running more or less right along the water, named Abosolo? Okay, that's the main drag the the malecón is on. This is the street that the parade runs along. Now, am I crazy or does it run just a few degrees off of the SW to NE line? In other words, isn't it on the north side of NE and the south side of SW? So, if you had to pick from only the 4 major corners of the compass (N,S,E,W) to describe the upper right hand corner of the street, what would you call it? East? No, I didn't think so. Obviously since it's a few degrees closer to North then East, you'd call it North. Most folks around here call it east and it DRIVES ME FREAKIN' CRAZY! If you must be inaccurate, at least opt for the less inaccurate option. Tom at Baja Insider hedged his bets, referring to it as EAST in the on-line publication but as NORTH when he talked about it on the net this morning.
Okay, rant over. Back to my story. Baja Insider said that day 1 of the parade would start at the other end of town and the Baja Citizen said it would start at our end of town. The cruiser scuttlebutt was that it would start at the other end but what the heck do they know? So, we chose to believe the Baja Citizen. Armed with this knowledge we walked downtown and chose a couple of choice curbside seats. Since the parade was starting on time and at our end, we wouldn't be there long so we hadn't bothered bringing refreshments or, more importantly, cushions.
There was a steady stream of folks walking by us toward the other end of the street, but, after all, that's where the rides and the food stands were so no biggie. There were also a few folks, and not just gringos, sitting along the curb like we were. However, it certainly didn't look like a parade was imminent. Oh yeah, the road was blocked off and there were ladies selling confetti-filled eggs for throwing at the paraders, but there was no sign of floats or horses of fire trucks or anything getting ready to roll.
But we waited anyway. After awhile we were joined by more expectant revelers including dockmates David & Carolyn from s/v Aztec and Owen, Carrie, Tamsyn & Griffyn from s/v Madrona.
So we sat and waited and visited and watched the people walk by. Families with little kids in tow, hot muchahchas wearing these unbelievably tight britches and the tallest high heels you can imagine, and vendors. Some of the vendors walked along with balloons and toys that wouldn't last the night.
Others had push carts where you could get a bag of anything from gummi bears to salted pistachios. But our favorite was the elote guy. We've been meaning to try the elote since we visited in 2002 and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Elote can be translated as "corn", "sweet corn", or "corn on the cob". The vendor had a push cart with a huge galvanized washtub on it covered with plastic on top. We watched him fix a couple of vasos (bowls) of elote and then decide to try it. Here's what we got:
In a styrofoam coffee cup, he put a scoop of hot cooked sweet corn from the tub. Then he added a big slather of mayonnaise, some powdered white cheese and a shot of chile sauce. Then, he repeated with another layer of the same. That's right, we ate warm (not hot) corn slathered in mayonnaise that had been sitting outside at ambient temperature (about 73 degrees) for god knows how long. Oh yeah, we're daring alright.
It was delicious and only 10 pesos (about 80 cents US). This guy was probably making more money that night than he'd make the whole rest of the month. It was obviously a very popular snack as he would fill about 10 orders, move about 10 feet and fill 10 more orders.
By the time we finished the vaso de elote it was almost 7:30 and we had pretty much seen all we needed to of the parade, which was nothing. We decided it was time to eat. We had planned on doing carnaval food but decided to head toward home and stop in at our favorite Super Burro instead. We picked up a couple cervezas at our beer store, the Mini Super Ama Pola, on the way.
While we were eating, a few of the now un-manned floats went rolling by. That was enough parade for us. After stuffing ourselves with super burros de asada and frijoles charros, we waddled on home to the boat. As I'm writing this on Monday, the day of the second parade, and we skipped going to it, too, we still have a chance to see the actual parade on day 3, tomorrow. I kind of doubt that we will but we are both kind of hankering for another vaso de elote. Once again, it's all about the food.
BTW: reportedly, the parade on Day 1 did start at the far end of Abosolo (the NE end) and di start at about 5:00. However, it stalled several times and didn't reach our end of the street until just after we left at about 7:30.
Note: in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that we went back to the carnaval area tonight (3/8, Fat Tuesday) so I could get a photo of the elote guy. And, while there we did manage to see some of the parade. We now feel pretty secure in standing by our "seen one, you've seen them all" statement.