Ensenada’s Carnaval – One Wild Party!

Ensenada Carnaval - horse & buggy rides Ensenada Carnaval - street vendors Ensenada Carnaval - street vendors Ensenada Carnaval - street vendors Ensenada Carnaval - crazy cars Ensenada Carnaval - crazy cars Ensenada Carnaval - Sol Beer model Ensenada Carnaval - band Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - clown Ensenada Carnaval - float Ensenada Carnaval - clown Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - dancers Ensenada Carnaval - floats Ensenada Carnaval - floats Ensenada Carnaval - floats Ensenada Carnaval - floats Ensenada Carnaval - kids Ensenada Carnaval - Sponge Bob Ensenada Carnaval - Condom van Ensenada Carnaval - Condoms Ensenada Carnaval - Caballero Ensenada Carnaval - acrobats Ensenada Carnaval - Mexican Revolution float

Ensenada Carnaval 2010

Mid-February, 2010 - Over Valentine's Day weekend the city

of Ensenada swelled by 600,000 people as visitors from all

over came to take part in the pre-Lent festival "Carnaval."  It

was perfect sailing weather all weekend, bright and sunny

and windy, and we were completely torn between heading

out into the bay on Groovy or going into town to see the

crazy Carnaval scene.  Events ran from 2:00 pm until 2:00

am everyday for six days, and we could hear the roar of the

crowd and the beat of the drums until the wee hours of the

morning from across the bay in our marina slip.

Sailing won out on most of the days, as it was the

first really great sailing weather we had had since

we moved aboard.  This part of the Pacific coast

had received more rain in the month since we

bought the boat than it had in the entire year of

2009, and we had begun to get a little antsy as we

waited for weather that would be fun for sailing.  Yet

Carnaval is one of the biggest local events of the

year in Ensenada, and we didn't want to miss it.  In

the end, we got downtown for one day and quickly

found ourselves swept up in a wild parade scene

that was like nothing we had ever witnessed.

People were milling around the tourist district before the parade started.  All sorts of vendors

were out and about selling all kinds of things.  The crowd was quiet and we found a spot in

the main square to sit and wait with everyone else.  Gradually the crowd began to move and

reassemble along the edge of the main street.  All of a sudden we heard the beeping horns

of antique cars and then their funny shapes came into view.  These were followed by some

crazy cars, one of which drove up on two wheels and many of which were souped up with

wing style doors.

The parade was off to a good start,

and after the last car went by we all

waited patiently for the next part of the

parade to come through.  We waited

and waited.  The kids began to grow

restless.  They would dash out in the

street just to be

called back by

their parents.  We

all craned our

necks, peering

around the folks next to us, as we looked down the street for any signs

of the parade, and we quickly found ourselves moving into the middle

of the street as a group.  Soon the whole street was full of spectators

with no parade to be seen.  After about 10 minutes it seemed that

nothing was going to happen for a while, so Mark and I began walking

and decided to hit the supermarket a few blocks away and do a little

grocery shopping.

The Sol Beer gal caught Mark's attention and posed with him for a quickie pic as we passed.

There wasn't a soul on any of the streets away from the parade route, and the supermarket

was ultra quiet.  Some 20 minutes and a few bags of groceries later, we emerged back onto

the main drag and found the parade in full swing once again.

One look at the crowd that had formed

around a group of mimes explained

what had taken the parade so long.

Rather than marching and walking in a

straight line like all the parades I have

ever seen, this Carnaval parade was

all about performing for the crowd.

Each "act" would stop every 30 yards

or so and put on a complete show for

the audience at that spot.

A large marching band was

deep into their show when we

first caught up with the parade.

One group of kids in the band crouched down while the others marched up and back

and in circles, playing their hearts out.  Adults wearing masks that matched the kids'

outfits supervised their movements from the sidelines.

After a good 10 minutes the band finally made its way

beyond us and another group of dancers took their place.

The costumes were elaborate, the dance steps were

intricately choreographed, and the music pulsed with

energy.  Every dancer was fully caught up in the moment.

I found myself caught up in the moment too.  Busy looking

around, I didn't notice a funny clown on a bike who stopped to

pose in front of me for a minute or so.  Then I spotted him and

realized he had seen my camera and was patiently waiting for

me to take a photo.

The theme to this year's

Carnaval was "A Mythological

Party of the Gods," and the

floats and costumes were

colorful and fantastic.

Many floats tossed candy into

the crowd and the kids all

around me scrambled about to

gather it all up.  Rather than the

stylized and somewhat bored

wrist-turning hand-wave I am

accustomed to seeing on parade

floats, these floats were alive with energy as the people on them called out to friends in the

crowd, wound up for big candy throws as if they were throwing world series pitches, and

laughed all the while.

Between the floats we were

treated to some terrific

dance groups.  From Aztec

looking costumes to

Egyptians right out of King

Tut's tomb, these kids were

totally into their dance

moves.  Each group was

preceded by a truck or a

float carrying enormous loud

speakers, and the air throbbed with music of all types as each group paused to perform for us

and then walked a few steps further to entertain the next folks.

And the dancers weren't just kids.  A group of older ladies came jigging

along too, and they pirouetted past, hips swaying and blissful looks on

their faces.

A group that must

have come down to

Ensenada from

Mount Olympus in

Greece did the

wildest dance for us.

Purple hair flying,

there were two young men who stole the show

with their unbridled energy and charisma.

As much as

the dancers

got the crowd

whooping and

hollering about their dances, the

elaborate costumes wowed us too.

Large headdresses, swooping

feathery things and more sequins

than I've seen in a long time drifted

past.  Adults and children alike were

adorned in fantasy-wear.

It seemed there was a place for

everyone in this parade.  Many floats

featured little girls in wonderful

costumes, and one little boy got to drive

a really cool little buggy the whole way.

Sponge Bob

Square Pants

even made a showing, coming up from his underwater domain to

join this mythological party of the gods.

In case the party got a little out of hand

and turned into something more of an

orgy, the Safe Sex van was on hand.  I

couldn't figure out what this act was all

about at first, as it was headed up by the

Grim Reaper and several walking

skeletons wearing black hoods.  Then I

saw the happy condom painted on the

side of the van and the row of XXL condoms walking along behind.  What a surprise it was when

some real condoms were flung in our direction.  A little boy next to Mark excitedly scooped one

up, only to have his dad shake his head at him, "No."  Just the adults were supposed to

scramble after these goodies.

A caballero on a

beautiful white horse

came prancing along

and then an acrobatic

troupe did some stunts

for us.

2010 marks the 100th

anniversary of the

Mexican Revolution

which started in 1910

with the ouster of

dictatorial President

Porfirio Diaz from 30

years rule and ended in

1920 with the formation

of a new constitution.

There is a lot more to Carnaval than just the parade, but the wind and

the sea called us back to the boat and we never made it to the other

events.  The little we had seen had put huge smiles on our faces,

though, and I came home that night with confetti clinging to my hair

and clothes.  It was over a week before I had picked all the little colorful

bits out of the carpets.  As the revelers subdued themselves for Lent,

we began a three week long series of jaunts back and forth to the US,

learning a bit about the changes along the southern border of the US.

Find Ensenada on Mexico Maps.