September 16, 2012

By Hugh and Carol Kramer

Ahhh---Carnaval in La Paz!!  This “peaceful” city – the capital of Baja California Sur -- has always been our favorite with its beautiful bay, beaches and numerous restaurants.  The incredible snorkeling is a testament to what Jacques Cousteau termed “the aquarium to the world.”  For years we wanted to experience Carnaval in La Paz.  This six-day pre-Lenten celebration is an opportunity to kick up your heels before the sacrifice and austerity of the Lenten season begins.   Our first opportunity to attend Carnaval was in 2004 and we have returned two times since then, each one as exciting and enjoyable as the first.

Each afternoon after traffic is re-routed from the renovated malecón, this beautiful bay-front expanse is transformed into a mile-long party setting and explodes into wildly colorful celebration.  It’s time to send in the clowns, the mimes, the elaborate floats, the food concessionaires, the vendors hawking their silver jewelry, blankets, handicrafts, the game operators, and other fair-like booths to complement the dozens of carnival rides and bands.       

Unlike New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or Rio’s Carnaval, La Paz celebrates in a very family-oriented manner.  Every evening, thousands of families fill the malecón along with paceños (residents of La Paz) of all ages.  Little girls don crowns and wave their glittered wands.  Teens walk hand-in-hand and the elderly leisurely enjoy the gaiety.

Two of the nights feature a twilight parade highlighting the Carnaval Queen and her court.  Many of the beautiful floats have children’s themes, like Nemo and the Yellow Submarine, with hundreds of children riding on floats or participating in dance and band groups.

A handful of large band stages are strategically located along the malecón and blast away into the wee hours of the morning for the younger set and other revelers without kids to tuck into bed.  You will have to work hard to not have a good time at Carnaval.  Surprisingly, there are very few Americans there.  2013 Carnaval should be February 7-12.  If you are anywhere close, don’t pass up the opportunity to participate in this authentic cultural experience.  Maybe we’ll meet you there!!!

Hugh and Carol Kramer are founders and owners of Discover Baja Travel Club.  For 21 years they have been providing Mexican insurance, tourist permits, fishing licenses, information and assistance for travels to Baja.

September 16, 2012

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