This week Carnival time had come to the streets of Venezuela! Time for us to enjoy the festivities!
Venezuelans regard carnival about the same way they regard Christmas and Semana Santa (Holy Week – the week before Easter Sunday). During two days of festivals they visit their families and everybody that is out in the streets during this week is subject to being soaked. You can take this literally…
We heard that coastal towns celebrated carnival much more fervently than any other place in the country. So off we went, to the Caribbean coast! Venezuela’s coast is a magnificent stretch of white, sandy beaches and those of Morrocoy are definitely in the top 3. Coincidence or not, but it just happened to be the case that one of the girls from the UCABMUN-organization owned a beach house in Morrocoy. Well Well! In the back of the car passing the ‘Maritime Andes’ I remembered myself what a old wise man once told me: ‘It’s not about what you know, but who you know’…Boom! The Venezuelan classics in the background and the sunset made this first snapshot complete.
For your information: the area of Morrocoy is a national park consisting of a shoreline, swamps, coral reefs and little island called “Cayos”. These islands are accessible by private boats or by little boat services. They are just incredible; well, you know the typical tourist magazine image: crystal-white empty beaches with a 150-year old turtle on the left and an empty hammock on the right. For the next few days these islands would be our home. We felt like fish in the sea and could not wait to be on one of those boats to get there.
Somewhere back in the 70’s these Islands got declared National Park in order to protect it from human intervention…Some rest, some soccer-skill practice on the beach, a book to read..on our way to our first Cayo (‘Borracho’), the four of us dreamed, on the rhythm of the waves, about discovering new land and settling in peace for a couple of days. But apparently, some humans already did intervene…As if Christopher Columbus and all his ancestors had stayed on the island over the past 500 years, the amount of people we saw was overwhelming. No one reading a book and no single turtle in a hammock; never underestimate the power of Carnival! Tiempo de fiesta, indeed!
No discovery of new land, but what we did discover was that Venezuelans know how to dance and we’d better know too. Did you know that Venezuela’s dances have been greatly influenced by the traditions and religious beliefs of the three races which constitute Venezuela’s population: White, Indian and Black?
In the following Carnival days we experienced this mix of people and learned some basics of the Latin-American dances like Salsa, Joropo, Meringue and the popular Reggeaton. Groups of man and woman shaking and moving on the tones of the drum: I was wondering if Henri Matisse had this in mind when he painted his famous ‘La Danse’ a century ago. Ideas of hedonism or not, we had a fantastic time and made some good friends. A carnival to never forget.
Con la mano arriba, cintura sola, da media vuelta, sacude duro…
And yes, that book (Tinkers by Paul Harding – you should read it) was for the way home to Caracas…
Hasta la proxima y danza!