Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Last month, I was lucky enough to be in Mazatlan during that Mexican city's Carnaval, which is celebrated every year prior to Ash Wednesday. It is billed as the third largest carnaval in the world, after those held in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. The Mazatlan Carnaval's parades, concerts and various festivals attract over 400,000 people, and all of them must have been cramming Mazatlan's seaside avenues when I was there.
One night I watched a mock naval battle that used fireworks rather than cannon to commemorate Mazatlan's 1864 victory over the French Navy. Afterwards, I found myself swallowed by a river of humanity flowing down Paseo Olas Altas. Holding on tightly to my wallet, I was carried along past beer stands, food stalls, and stages packed with dancers gyrating to loud salsa and rock music. Everyone was surprisingly well-behaved, considering the "party-on" mood, and I emerged with body and wallet intact. The theme of this year's Carnaval was "Spirits of Wind and Sea." No doubt, I owe the spirits a prayer of thanks for looking out for me.