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Waka Waka Carnaval

Although I am not painting or dancing during Carnaval, I am having such a great time documenting it through pictures and video. For the longest I had spent Carnaval indoors behind the computer since the festivities always fall during newspaper deadline. Now that Ambergris Today is fully online, I don’t have the stress of deadlines and can come out to enjoy Carnaval even more.

Carnaval Comparsa

Rosita Sturmberg and Felix Ayuso brave the black shoe polish to dance like the ‘Negritos’

Carnaval Comparsa

Here is Felix again with Carmelita Caceres dressed up as Chinese ladies. Great costumes!

Yesterday I braved the streets alone to capture day two of Carnaval and was happy to have survived with only my cheeks dabbed with blue paint. I guess people already know that I am working and respect me and my camera gear. I have to say that I am having so much fun watching all the action around me.

I read a few posts on Facebook of people complaining about vandals who paint private property. This seems to come around every year, but I see it as a tradition that has been going on for years and it is very hard to change. People already know what to expect and I believe that they can prepare for the painting. Many businesses with expensive signs and elaborate murals on their walls bring them down or cover them with tarp/clear plastic. And for those who don’t like Carnaval at all, they stay home and avoid the painting. If you don’t want to get painted, then stay home; as simple as that. Going out on the streets is asking for it. I leave my car on the back street so that it does not get painted when I come to town. This is less stressful than complaining every year.

Carnaval Comparsa

On an ordinary day, this would be strange. But not during Carnaval!

Carnaval Comparsa

Met up with Photographer Jose Luiz Zapata and AT staff Perlita taking pictures by Central Park

I have to give mad props to three special persons whose dedication and commitment towards Carnaval make it so much fun year after year. The Comparsas (street dancing) have been dying throughout the years. I remember when there were close to ten comparsas at one point. There are less and less committed community members who are following the steps of Mama Vilma, Martita Leslie, don Severo Guerrero and don Fido Nuñez who year after year produced fantastic comparsas with the school children.

The three people that are continuing the tradition of the Comparsas are Mrs. Flora Ancona, Mr. Pablo Kumul and Mr. Felix Ayuso. I see them dancing their hearts out as they take to the streets with their individual groups. Weeks before Carnaval, Mrs. Ancona heads out to gather her dancers and prepares the themes for her three comparsa dances. She even asked me if I wanted to dance…Me dance on the streets…Jejejeje! Thanks but, no thanks!

Mr. Felix Ayuso danced with Mrs. Flora, but this year he gathered his AIDS Commission group members and encouraged them to come out with their own comparsa group. They are now having so much fun entertaining the crowd on the streets and collecting money towards their non-profit organization.

Carnaval Comparsa

Mrs. Flora Ancona sings her heart out

And then we come to Mr. Pablo Kumul. What can I say about his comparsa group “Pablo’s Girls”? Yes they are a bit rude at times, as can be expected from men in drag with lots of liquor in their system. But his group is definitely a highlight of Carnaval. Everybody can’t wait to see what new song they come up with. This last day of Carnaval they sing to their version of Shakira’s Waka Waka! LOL! This is my beautiful home and Carnaval is just one of the many great traditional celebrations that make La Isla Bonita so unique and precious to me. Long Live Carnaval!

Carnaval Comparsa

…while Pablo Kumul dances to his heart’s content!

Here’s an excellent quote from one of Ambergris Today’s readers:
“LOL! It really takes a real man to get out here and entertain a crowd (using probably their wives’ clothes, Hehehe) as they have been doing for so many years. Most of these guys have been doing this since day one! And I find it amazing to see them all getting together every single year singing their hearts out and just having a super duper great time! I remember seeing these guys participate in this comparsa since I was like the teeniest tiniest little thing! LOL, que viva Carnaval! I hope to get out there for the next one! How I miss it!”

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