Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Carnaval - by Geert

Giant bats that flap their painted plywood wings with a sharp, frightening sound, masked demons cracking long whips on the pavement, nearly naked men covered from head to toe with soot and shiny, pitch black paint, dragging rattling chains, long necked dragons, enormous insects and spiders, and many impersonations of the Voodoo devil Baron Samedi, carrying a coffin, or leading a band of zombies - there was a lot of scary stuff at last Sunday's Carnaval parade in Jacmel. And there were so many participants that it lasted all afternoon.

In the evening thousands dancing revelers took over the streets. They were spurred on by Ra-ra bands, groups of drummers and hornplayers, each with its own style. These bands don't march, they run - if there is room. Some streets were completely jammed with people. You could not move in any direction. I was warned against pickpockets, so I left my wallet on the boat. I did a little experiment: I put a banknote in each of my four pockets. At the end of the evening they were still there. I then lost some of the money in the central square, where dozens of little gambling stalls were set up. Many were handcrafted and painted roulette wheels, with very eccentric symbols and numbering.

I very quickly lost Dick and David in the melee, but that was all right. I must have hugged at least a hundred strangers, and this was only the first day of the Carnaval season.

We plan to set sail for Ile a Vache this afternoon. Meanwhile, Google made some changes to the Blogger website. All team members have to sign in again before they can post - a easy process.