Carnaval Parade of Senior Citizens


On Tuesday, February 27, we took the afternoon off to attend the parade in honor of Carnaval (beginning of Lent, or Cuaresma -- like Mardi Gras). We had heard that Carnaval is not much celebrated here, since the big fair of the year, Féria Chaurotaurina de la Villa de Álvarez, happens during the preceding two weeks. In fact we had attended the final event of that fair the day before, a performance in La Petatera by the Enanitos Toreros. But fortunately Catalina had also alerted us that there was to be, this year for the first time, a big Senior Citizens parade for Carnaval, sponsored by the DIF (a big important social agency of the government here: "Desarollo Integral de Familias" -- "Integrated Family Services"). Of the 10 municipios in the state of Colima, 8 participated in the parade. We got there early, followed along the course of the parade (from Jardin Nuñez to Jardin Libertad) and then hung around for some festival activities in the Jardin Libertad afterward. One of these turned out to be yet another parade, put on by the students of CEDART, a local high school of arts. The elders enjoyed seeing the youngsters having fun.

Lois writes:

The highlight of the week took place last Tuesday. It was a Senior Citizen carnaval parade. Two to three hundred elders took part, most of them in costume, most of them dancing. It was really wonderful. I interviewed the Director of the Center that instigated the parade on Thursday. She stated that some folks had the idea about a month ago. The seniors designed and made their own costumes. As far as the dance routines go, dance appears to be an integral part of the senior centers. During my visit on Thursday, there were two different dance classes in progress. Anyway, one of the groups (from Manzanilla, the coastal city about an hour from here) were dressed in Indigenous style outfits and were using metal shakers. I asked one of the women about the shaker and she gave me the indigenous name -- conchinche.

Woman from Manzanillo, with sonaja (or conchinche).


After the festivities were over, I decided I would like to have one of these shakers to add to my percussion collection. On Wednesday we went to one of the two music stores in town and asked about the "maraca de metal". The shopkeeper said he didn't have any, but that Jorge Terraquines made them. A guy in the shop gave us some directions, which were not very complete. We couldn't find the shop, so we asked in the other music store in town. The owner there knew nothing, but a customer, who is a musician, said he knew the man we were looking for, that he had made a "sonaja" (a generic term for a metal shaker) for him. He kindly offered to take us to the shop, and we had a pleasant conversation with him en route. It turns out that they fabricate items from sheet metal in the shop. When our guide introduced us to Jorge, I realized that I had met him and his wife in one of the main parks the previous Sunday evening, during a band performance. Jorge stated that he did not have any sonajas on hand, but that he would make me one, and I should return anytime after 4 pm on Friday. Great!

Friday was a most unusual day here. It rained. This has not happened in March for at least 10 years, maybe never. One benefit was that it snowed on the top of the extinct volcano, and we have photos to prove it. Well, since it never rains here at this time of year, I have no rain gear. There are virtually no storm drains in the city. So the streets turned into rivers, with about three inches of water flowing down them. It was impossible to walk without getting drenched feet. Don had a Friday night meeting, so I set out to pick up my sonaja alone, around 5:45 pm. Guess what? When I arrived 30 minutes later, soaking wet, Jorge told me the sonaja was not ready and I should come back at 11 am on Saturday. This time I had the presence of mind to ask him what he was going to charge me and he said 35 pesos ($3.50), which sounded fine to me. On Saturday Don and I arrived at the shop at 11:45 am. Are you ready? Well, the sonaja wasn't. However, they told us to have a couple of seats and a young man proceeded to make the shaker about 30 feet from where we were sitting. Don took some photos, which will show up on his web page some day. It took him 25 minutes to complete the job. I paid Jorge his 35 pesos, told him that I was a happy "gringa" and we left. I got to shake, rattle and roll all the way home. Efficient no. Fun, yes.

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