Hola readers! The weekend after Alice left me all alone in Spain (such a hard life I lead, I know), Ella and I went on a day trip to Cadiz for Spain’s annual Carnaval. The problem? We didn’t really know what it was for. And neither did anyone else.
My best guess is that the Carnaval originated in South America, and when Spain and Portugal colonised the majority of the countries there, they not only stole people and resources, but also stole party traditions to liven up their own cultures… Thus, Carnaval was born in Spain. Of course, I could be completely wrong, and I’m not very informed on the topic, so if anyone has more information please do drop me a message and educate me!
Our trip to Cadiz was lovely and sunny; always good when there’s a beach to enjoy! Ella and I joined forces with two other travellers, Jen and Lily, and the four of us made our own way around Cadiz, leaving the tour group until the evening. After a lovely walk along the seafront, and the classic Cadiz wall photos, we headed over to the lighthouse to do some of that cultured, historic tourism.
Now, something you should know about Spain is that some of their laws sometimes cease to be laws. In this case, I’m talking about Botellon, or drinking alcohol in the streets, which is normally illegal, but made legal on festival days. That being said, authorities do still like to draw the line and we were sent out of the lighthouse area to finish our copas of tinto de verano (red wine and lemonade) and then let back in, alcohol quickly rushing through our systems (that’s mostly a joke; I might be a lightweight but I’m not that bad…). We then headed up to an ocean-view tourist-trap of a restaurant where the setting sun made sitting outside more and more difficult every second, where the food was fairly standard and nothing to phone home about, and where the bathroom was big enough for Ella and I to change into our Carnaval outfits, but not big enough for people to avoid soaking every inch of the floor.
After dinner we made our way back to the main square and met up with the tour group again for the pregón, the opening ceremony of the Carnaval. It was a mish-mash of different performers, and none that particularly caught our attention, so after 2 hours of standing, sober, amongst drunken people absolutely loving the opening act (who was not my cup of tea at all!), we left to find some alcohol. We did as the Spanish do and hopped from bar to bar, killing time until our 3am departure (not as bad as the Zaragoza trip back in October but still pretty difficult!) just having cups of tinto de verano to pass the time.
The highlight of the night had to be stumbling across a group of fully grown men dressed up like the gang from the Wizard of Oz; the whole gang. Yes, I mean Dorothy too. Their costumes were great and the conversation was… well very drunk and slurred, but I still managed to understand the gist of what they were saying! I think… we probably bumped into these guys at least three times over the course of the night, and they were drunker every time, and thankfully as unintimidating as ever; a girl has to keep her eye out for any untoward behaviour from grown men and these guys seemed harmless; ten points to humanity!
While meeting new people is fun, and attempting to stay in contact with them has proved difficult, I don’t think the Carnaval scene is something I’ll be repeating any time soon… Or… Ever. It’s not so much the late nights (because, let’s face it, I’ve had Netflix binges longer than this; my current record started at around 11pm and ended at 8am…) but more the pointless ‘drinking to get drunk/have a good time’ (I prefer to have a good time with memories and no hangover the following morning) and the culture that is definitely not exclusive to Spain but seems more prominent here: men pissing in the streets. There was a constant smell of urine everywhere we went, and one street we went down had men literally lined up pissing either side, like there were urinals on the outside of buildings. I’d seen it before in Zaragoza, and even before that in Bilbao two years ago while I was there for fiesta season. Never again. Or at least not until I’ve invested in nose plugs and blinders.
Despite all that, I did have a good time in Cadiz; it was a beautiful city and there was a lovely atmosphere around the Carnaval time. I just think I’ve outgrown the ‘staying up late and getting drunk as hell’ scene… Then again, final year freshers…
Featured image by Ella