It’s Kanaval Nasyonal time right now in Haiti (Carnival or Mardis Gras for you English speakers.) For the first time ever, the national celebration of this festival is officially being held in a city other than Port au Prince—our town of les Cayes. That means the Haitian President, Prime Minister and all government officials are here, along with a massive amount of police and dignitaries. Our town is hopping (literally-- I can feel the bass and Kompa music blaring a few miles away.)
Carnival is celebrated all over the world leading up to Ash Wednesday, primarily in Catholic or orthodox countries. Each country blends in much of their cultural history in this festival, held over many days. Karnval includes loud music, floats, all-night partying and general revelry. Since Haiti’s cultural history is thick in African roots and voodoo and this is reflected in their Kanaval celebrations.
You can guess we are not attending these all night parties! But, WOW, can we hear it going strong all night long! It was really neat to see the preparations in Cayes the last few weeks leading up to Kanaval. Streets being cleaned, lots and lots of painting going on to make everything look fresh, new asphalt on some streets, and huge grandstands being erected. There are these huge ‘floats’ pulled by massive Mack trucks—some are floats as you know them, some are trailers with huge speakers on the bottom and the band rides on top. I haven’t gotten to see them first hand in action, but here are some pics of the action taken by some people Rob follows on twitter.
Here are some pics we took of the preparations leading up to Kanaval. You can click on any of them to see them larger.
New grandstands lining the main road into Cayes:
There is an area closer to us that they cleared out for vendors and big partying. Here you can see some of the Mack trucks lined up with the trailers ready for huge speakers and bands.
Rob went up in another missionary’s plane yesterday to check it out. Here are a few pics:
Here is an aerial view of the same cleared area. I imagine it’s packed at night.
Here is some pics downtown. Again, much tamer during the day.
And finally, a really cool picture of downtown Cayes: