The Sacred and Profane, Carnival Time In San Ignacio
Though not quite on the scale of the famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, San Ignacio Argentina is not shy about showing us how to party.
Sunday - February 7
On our walk from the hotel to the mission ruins, we passed a local school and noticed a display of multi-colored, feathered costumes arranged on the floor of a covered courtyard. In one of the classrooms were a group of high school-aged students working on other costumes. We inquired what they were for, and to our surprise learned that there was to be a carnival celebration in the center of town starting at 9:00 that night. After touring the ruins, we took a break from the heat in our hotel room and waited for the show to begin.
At about 9:00 PM we stepped out of the hotel into the center of town which was already filling with people. There were two groups, the spectators and the participants, who were easily distinguished from each other by their costumes or degree of undress. One of the streets leading from the center of town was blocked off, and a small admission fee was charged to enter, giving customers a front row seat to the dancers as they made their way from one end of the long street to the other. Never having attended a carnival before, this was all new to us. Of course, this being Latin America the show didn’t kick off on time, but when it did, the energy level ramped up incredibly.
Each samba group represented one of the towns in the province. The party rotates from one town to the next each weekend for about three weeks. Apparently there were a lot of Brazilians who immigrated to this region over the years, bringing their Carnival tradition with them. Each samba club consisted of scantily clad dancers of all ages, mostly women but with a few guys (not scantily-clad), a drum section and a live band mounted on a large trailer complete with a very loud speaker system, mixing board and lights, all pulled by a funky farm tractor. It was an amazing event to be part of, very sensual and suggestive dancing to music played at mega-decibels by so many young women in outrageously colorful costumes.
Some of the groups developed a theme which was followed through in their costumes and music. For one group in particular, the theme, Maravella, depicted the visual arts. We stayed at curbside watching the show until about 1:30. It was still going strong well after that as we could hear the drumming from our hotel room. I suspect it didn’t end until 3:00 - 4:00 AM. The amazing thing is that so many little kids were in the audience with many as participants. It was a very quiet Monday morning when we checked out to head to the bus station and our next adventure.
Putting on the final touches before the Carnival parade begins.
Meanwhile the guys are warming up with the samba rhythms.
The dancers are taking their positions for the start of the parade.
They could almost pass as the Michigan State University marching band.
They like the beat as loud as possible.
Each samba group were accompanied by their own live band.
Well it might not be too pretty but the PA system is so loud and the party so wild, who cares?
Let the party begin!
Sitting on the sidelines doesn't mean you can't join the festivities, the hot seller among the audience were spray cans of "snow", soap suds.
There was even a contingent of some crazy creepy clowns to add a little more variety to the party.
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