Hector and I have never been to a Carnival celebration. Our original schedule put us in La Paz around the end of February so we slowed down our southbound journey to experience Carnaval in La Paz in early March.
There are three parades during Carnaval and the final one takes place on what we know as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras day.
The parades take place on the malecón, a beautiful three mile esplanade along the La Paz waterfront.
We learned, to our amusement, that the three parades are all exactly the same. The first one begins on one side of the malecón and ends in the other. The second starts on the other side and ends on the first. The last one returns to the original route. Okay.
We decided to check it out from the street on the first day to make sure the photography angle would work. We found a prime spot along the street right alongside the spot where the parade was to begin. Of course, once there we had to stay for the entire parade.
One of the first things we noticed were people carrying signs saying “no lanzar objetos al desfile” (do not throw objects towards the parade). The signs showed a drawing of an egg with a red circle with a line across it on top. Interesting.
Every few floats a person would go by with the signs asking people not to throw objects. Huh.
Of course, there was lots of music, There were many children participating in the parade, some riding floats and others dancing or walking along the route. It was definitely a family affair.
We watched the crowd assemble and the vendors sell their wares.
On Fat Tuesday vendors were selling painted egg shells that were broken on one end and taped up with painted tissue paper. We found out that the eggs were filled with confetti. Hector bought a couple of bags and we waited to see what people would do with them.
But when the parade began there were more people carrying the signs about not throwing objects. Oh well. Anyway, we saw the parade again from our upstairs vantage point. And being the Tuesday before lent we thought the parade participants were more energetic. As if the prior parades were a warm up to this night.
The dance groups, the beauty queens, the floats all seemed brighter and more beautiful from our perch.
And of course, the drag queens who pulled up the rear of the parade were even more fabulous.
So what did people do with their eggs. Well, the table next to us which was full of children threw them back and forth at each other. So Hector and I threw a couple of eggs at each other.
Confetti is not something you want all over, and tons of confetti is definitely not something you want to throw in the sea, which just happens to be right next to where the parade took place. So that is why we think they have stopped this practice. Good for them!
We were glad to have seen the parade twice as it was quite different from the ground than from above.
The Carnaval Parade in La Paz was a little bit of song, a little bit of dance, a little sweet, a little hoaky, a little activist and a lot community and family. We loved it.