Monday, March 2, 2009

Carnival - Gualeguaychu

I arrived home yesterday after dragging my failing legs up our steep slippery stairs at 9:30 am. My arms were bruised, by knee swollen, my hair bedraggled having lost its bobby pins, and my dress torn and dirty. No, I was not mugged, I was not assaulted, and no I did not take part in a mash pit of any kind. I was carnivaled. 15 hours after we left our beautiful city we returned after a night that seemed to be a dream. Did it really happen? Well luckily I have the pictures to prove it!

After arriving in Gualeguaychu (a town known only for its Carnival and a big prison) we hopped a city bus to the ticket station, forked over 40 pesos for our tickets to the Carnival and made our way over to the beach. Of course there was a long line full of drunk and drinking people (who we were fortunate enough to steal ice from).

Waiting in line? Might as well work on those biceps!

As could be expected, these people began to get rowdy. From our position in the middle/back of the line we saw the barbed wire fence begin to shake, and a few brave souls climbed the fence, ducked under the barbed wire and tumbled over to the opposite side of the fence. The security caught on to this, and the crowd cheered on one guy who hopped over and immediately ran from a big man in a white shirt only to be dragged back by us a minute later to god knows what fate. Soon the rattling of the gate increased as the crowd grew more restless, and low and behold, we stormed the gate. Sadly a few people and their stuff were trampled in this madness but in Argentine fashion people who break all the rules break down gates as well.
Turns out the whole mess was useless, because in typical Argentine fashion we were actually waiting in line for another line that would let us into the beach, and the authority fought back with scary police with rubber bullet guns and truncheons. By fought back I mean they stood menacingly at the entrance and dared one of us to make a move. The selling of tickets was suspended, and it was agreed we would have to hang out outside the party on the grass. We bought beer from a "kiosko" that was actually some one's house, which I had a nice tour of when I was shown to the bathroom.

Outside our "Kiosco"

Drinking beer out of plastic bottles so the nice ladies at our "Kiosco" wouldn't have to part with their precious "retourables"
British people: Kat and Jess

After about an hour they opened the gates and some of us went in, but the rest of us decided to go to a bar and save some money. There we had a great time playing Indian poker (while the name is most defiantly racist in origins its still fun and I'm not sure what else to call it) amusing the Argentines around us with the fact that we actually brought cards to a bar.

What better venue could we have found?
Jess is so going to win

Our group divided further when Jessica, Josh and I took a took a cab to the Carnival area. While waiting for everyone to catch up to us we got our favorite! Churripan!!!! Again we were welcomed into someones house in order to buy something delicious and with a cold litre of beer in a plastic cup the sandwich never tasted so good.
Eventually we entered Carnival where we found the famous melon drinks our friend Austin had told us about. Scooped out melon with...yumminess inside. Carnival itself was actually really cool. The floats were larger than life and out of proportion, huge structures filled with dancing men and women led by more dancing men and women in fantastic over the top costumes...check a few out for yourself:

Jeremy channels batman, Josh sé

Mask time as we enter the Carnival


Josh getting ready to hop the fence: the same fence responsible for my bruises

Jeremy = genius for bringing whistles
There he goes!
Birthday guy

Sneaky Josh with the people who paid lots for their tickets

Porfavor, take note of the people dancing in wild costumes all over this thing

Most of these pictures are thanks to the shenanigans of Josh who hopped over the fence in the Argentine style multiple times. Of course when I tried it I got caught, and then the second time Zach and I saw Josh getting what we thought was dragged away. We ran all over looking for him like crazy people until we sat down outside the stadium and lamented our departed brother. We did not know what to do...and we were sad...major buzz kill.
Who was there to pop out of no where to cheer us up but Josh himself. "There you are!" he said. Relieved, we skipped back into the Carnival to dance, dance, and dance some more.
The Carnival ended at four in the morning, and with two hours left till our bus left we headed to a supposed party with our new Argentine friends. After what felt like hours of walking (really only about half an hour in reality) Nick, Josh, Ted, Zach and I decided we were hitting the proverbial wall and that we were done walking away from the bus station and headed in that general direction. On the way we found "the best hamburgers ever" according to Nick (they were pretty awesome at the time) and then made our way to the bus station where Ted lay down on a bench moaning and desperate for bed. We all echoed his feelings and when the bus pulled up (with the most comfy seats ever!!!) it was like the Messiah had come and told us everything was going to be OK. Falling asleep doesn't quite articulate how hard we passed out. It was a sleep of the dead, and I woke up three hours later as we pulled into Buenos Aires feeling slightly punch drunk and surprisingly well rested. We took a bus home...and then limped back to our place (maybe that was just me limping) after tearful goodbyes with a great group of people that I could not have had better fortune to have travelled on this journey with. We all passed out dirty in our beds, unable to move another inch and woke later to a rainy day.

Collectivo back to San Telmo


Lauren Weintraub said...

I absolutely love this post! I want to laugh really hard but of course I'm reading it at work and can't :( oh well next time..

Mary Rolf said...

What a fun time! The floats were magnificent. What memories & friends you are making.