Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 125: Carnival in Cádiz – What Happened?

Fantastic posters. It's party time!

Carnival in Cádiz was non-stop fun. I spent my days exploring the city, sipping wine on the beach, eating out with friends, and watching parades full of scantily clothed women. Most of the time the weather in Cádiz was magical. The city is built on a peninsula so it has beaches on both sides. When I finally explored Cádiz's historical district sober I was enraptured by the city's maze of streets, castle, parks, and trees, but carnival made it even better. Groups of singers practice all year before they perform at Carnival. Known as Chirigotas they sing silly and witty songs accompanied by kazoo. Unfortunately for most of us, the songs are sung in Andalusian Spanish. I'm used to not understanding but for people that speak Spanish, Andalusian is the equivalent of speaking with your mouth full of tortilla. Despite that "me no entiendo," I enjoyed the energy of these groups and the smiling faces of the crowd around them.

I like parties where walking is difficult.
Everyone was having a splendid time.
Kids took the high ground and rained confetti down on the masses.
Every-day truck driving attire.
I'm not sure what this kid was doing but I'm glad I got a photo of it.
More cross dressing to come.
Dinosaurs. Sharks. Confetti.
The floats were outstanding and must have taken a long time to make.

As the sun set the energy of the carnival changed. Throngs of eager partygoers flooded from the busses into the historical center armed with enough alcohol to "hacer un toro borracho." Spaniards and tourists alike stumbled through the streets, heads floating in a drunken haze. As the night flowed on the streets became minefields of broken bottles and other booby traps. It was a sloppy slur of meeting people, drinking and laughing. There was one fundamental element missing. Music.

At night the streets were full of people partying...
...and other things...
...but mostly new friends having a good time.

The Chirigotas were entertaining but were impossible to dance to. We took matters into own own hands, banging beats out of trashcans and beer bottles. Two nights we ended up at bars with good music but I wanted music in the streets. Not speaking the language severely limits my communication so dancing was my main Mojo. Thankfully I had a backup plan.

For €12 in a Córtobian boutique I found my perfect costume. Riddle me this. What is 188 cm tall, wears sunglasses, and gets all the chicks? The cool cock.

The trifecta – Cool Cock, Porno Bee, and... Oset.
My illusions of originality evaporated immediately.

What do you get when you mix a bee, turk, and cock with thousands of drunken Spaniards? You guessed it! My first night of Carnival in Cádiz. We arrived in full regalia. Expecting to take Cádiz by storm. There were four of us on the bus, locked, loaded, and ready to party. Full power. After dropping off my pack and enjoying a kebab, we headed to a friend's apartment to do some pre-gaming! Did you know you can buy a bottle of rum for €6 in a Spanish grocery store? We spent about €20 so you do the math. Alcohol flowed liberally. Between 'chupitos' and mixed drinks we all blasted by the time we hit the streets. We had an amazing time. Out of all the nights I spent at carnival, this is when there were the most people out.

The crew of my first night at Carnival.
After hours of partying we healed ourselves with churros.
The next morning was heavy.

My costume was the funniest when I was in the hospital. The second night I was in Cádiz I chanced into my hosts from Salamanca. They told me that they were coming but in true Ross style, I totally forgot. What luck that we bumped into each other on the street. We hung out for the rest of the night, drinking a few bottles of rum. Because there was no music, drinking was the main activity. We met up with this group of girls and I was talking with one of them who spoke English. I was having fun adding another broken bottle to the gauntlet and I turn around and she had fallen into the street. One second standing, and the next, boom. Remember what I said about the minefield? I rushed to help her up but it was too late. She got a nasty 7.5 cm cut on her left cheek and some pieces of glass jammed into her wrist. Blood began pouring from her face and it was clear we needed to get help. Soon the a police car came, it was around 6AM. They said one person could go with her so I hopped in and off we went. There I was in the hospital in a chicken suit with a girl who's face is bleeding profusely. The doctors were all laughing and saying "pollo." After five stitches in her cheek and two on her hand we headed home. She thanked me and we went our separate ways. She left with stitches, I left in stitches, but we both left with memories.

Victor and I having fun waiting for a pizza.
My hosts from Salamanca!

At carnival I met spectacular people from all around the world. I was so lucky to find a host. People posted all over CouchSurfing trying to find places to stay or whining that they were unable to do so. I sent about 10 requests out and got two yeses. Yesss! I stayed with a dude named Carlos who was from a small town in Andalusia and studying in Cádiz. He is a great cook, a lot of fun, and transforms into the ugliest woman that I've ever seen. Throughout the week his living room was a hodgepodge of sleeping bags and new faces. I met two beautiful girls from Brazil, two lovely Germans girls, and miraculously collided with a girl from Turkey. It was one of those moments of synchronicity where universal order becomes apparent.

Carlos begins his transformation...
...into a classy supermodel.
My accommodations!
Adina and I jumping for joy. 
Kiss the cock.
Cádiz is famous for its deep fried seafood. Delicioso!
Herds of cats waited hungrily under the fishermen.
A truly magnificent city.

While I was trying to find a couch in Cádiz, I posted on a forum that if all else failed, I would be camping in a tent. This gorgeous girl replied, asking me for more details. I showed her profile photo to my hosts in Córdoba and we all hooted and hollered. Not only was she beautiful but she seemed genuine and interesting. One day in Cádiz, Carlos told me that another CouchSurfer was coming in a few minutes. "Sweet," I said, without giving it any thought. You all know what happens next. Sure enough, it was her! Unbelievable! We spent two lovely days together. Despite being from completely different parts of the globe we had remarkably similar taste in music and energy. I couldn't believe that we met and we continually laughed about it. Tao is amazing.

Walking to the castle with Didem.
Go honk yourself!
Cádiz has amazing sculptures all over the city by Sebastian.
Cádiz's castle at sunset.
Everyone becomes an artist at sunset.
The hitch hiking photo I looked forward to all week. 

Next time I play "Never Have I Ever" I'll lose quicker. Now, I've been black-out drunk, I've been in a hospital in a chicken suit, and I've met more beautiful people than I can count. My heart and liver grew a lot this past week. I loved every second that I was alive, even when I was hungover.

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