Carnival in Cartagena


We spent a few days visiting this ancient city recently. Yes, it’s named after Carthage in North Africa and it has a marvellous ruin of a Roman theatre  Last weekend was carnival weekend and I was astonished to see the energy and sheer number of people engaged in the carnival parade. There were a lot of very scantily clad ladies with huge feather headdresses but—seen one, you’ve seen ’em all! I was more interested in the political side of things. Spain is in the midst of a debate about the remains of Fransisco Franco, the general who ruled Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. I am learning a lot about the Spanish Civil War and also about Franco …..I’m not getting into it! OK? A vote in the parliament last year approved the exhumation of his remains. Not so fast, where will he be buried then? The grandchildren of Franco oppose the move and propose that their ancestor be buried in the Cathedral of Madrid. The Government fear that such a move would encourage veneration of Franco so they refuse this alternative. The government even appealed to the Vatican to help decide where he should be reburied. That’s why the pope appears in the carnival float. This topic has been a hot issue for several years and so…. the float.

Despite this note of political turmoil, the rest of the parade was a joyful muddle of diverse themes. Hawaiians, showgirls, Chinese, Indian, Arabian, Mexican – all dancing along to infectious Brazilian carnival music! My favorite was a two year old dressed as a bee. She insisted that she must march in the parade. Over and over again, her dad marched her up and down 40 feet beside the parade route.  On the walk up she sulked. On the way down she beamed. To me, that’s the spirit of Carnival. Humor a bee! Why not?

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