This post was originally sent as an email on March 29 , 2012. I apologize for not having too many pictures from carnivale to post. Now that we are officially, “bloggers” I am getting better at carrying my camera around with me. Back then I did not always have the camera – “Sorry!”
Hello to all from sunny DRY San Clemente! Just as suddenly and surely as it came, the rainy season has moved on and we just had a full week without any rain. As I mentioned last week, we were just about ready for the rain to leave. This rainy season set records in overall rainfall, most rainy days and record-breaking single storm amounts. The locals tell me it will be seven to twenty years before we see any rain like that here again. I, for one, am glad to see it gone.
All during December and January we heard about carnival – how crowded the beach would be – how rowdy the crowds would be – how loud the music would be – how much theft and crime might come from all of the outsiders – don’t leave your house –stock up on food and for heaven’s sake, do not go down town. Well, as is often the case, the real thing was not nearly as described.
For one thing, the President of Ecuador did not give everyone extra days off as he apparently did last year. Also, the weather (see above) dissuaded some from coming to the beach as there was some road flooding and threats of bad weather. And, although the days were very pleasant and rain-free, it did rain almost every night during carnival which cut back on some of the possible late night revelry. And – the weather together with the taxing loads placed on the limited electrical power supply combined to knock the power out in town almost every time the super amps ramped up to blast the music late at night!
Mostly though, San Clemente is a place where families come to reunite and enjoy the beach. San Jacinto and Crucita and other beach towns are better known for revelry. All of the apartments in our complex were rented out during carnival, but at least one half of them were all rented by members of the same family who yearly meet for a reunion. Mary and I met with most of them and had a pleasant time visiting. One of the ladies is married to a man from Minnesota and was here for the winter (good idea!). She spoke great English and we had fun practicing Spanish with her.
Another small family from Portoviejo with two small girls kept us entertained for a couple of hours in the pool. Especially the outgoing little three-year old showed us all of her ballerina dance steps. She would say, “Mira, Mira!” and dance around in the pool and then exclaim, “Da!” with a flourish after each dance. She would run over to her mother and get some cheese snacks (like Cheetos) and come over and feed us. They also had two large blow-up float toys that looked like an alligator and a shark. Mary acted like she was afraid of the shark and the little girl sternly disciplined the shark complete with wagging finger (Apparently used in Spanish-speaking discipline too.) for scaring Mary. She put the shark in, “time out” and periodically tuned to push it back in the corner when it drifted out! Not exactly the drunken criminals we were braced for!
I even ventured out on my bicycle to see what the crowd was doing downtown. The place was packed! Our main north/south road was essentially a parking lot with busses and trucks lining the street on both sides of a road barely wide enough to support two-way traffic. Young and old alike were out with water bottles, squirt guns, and silly foam spray cans (I wish I had that concession) to douse people who passed by, but they mostly targeted young cute women and I was quick enough on the bike to avoid the occasional overspray. Mary also tried to ride downtown one afternoon, but the traffic forced us to a side street where she, being a young cute woman, was targeted a few times for foam and water shots.
People came to town in all sorts of vehicles. Large flatbed trucks with railings that look like those used in the USA for cattle trucks came pouring into town with crowds of happy people crammed in the back. The police were stopping buses on the outskirts of town and made them park there as it would be impossible for the buses to turn around in town. People who came early were pretty much destined to stay until the crowds thinned in the evening as people from neighboring areas left to go home. But, as the evenings came and the tide came in, many people did leave and the rains came to knock out the power eliminating the amplified music allowing us residents to sleep – pretty much as usual.
All in all, it was great! The local economy really relies on the carnival crowd to bring in much needed income. We saw friends of ours selling ceviche and other home-made items on the beach. I helped our friend Eugene carry two huge cardboard boxes full of shrimp shells to the curb the day before carnival from ceviche that he and his family had prepared. We heard that some of the locals make hundreds of dollars a day profit selling food items. We were glad the weather was good for those who depend on the crowds for added income.
There were some drunken crowd related problems downtown and over toward San Jacinto that I heard about after carnival was over, but we live on the quiet end of town and, as I said, most of the families that were here just visited and talked and laughed and generally did what Ecuadorians seem so well suited to doing – enjoyed life! Two days after carnival was over, the garbage collection crew of two men wearing face masks wielding shovels and a truck driver had the town right back to normal and Mary and I went back to walking a wide open beach in our own little corner of paradise.
Life is good! I will write again soon and let you know about our visit with Bob and Glenda and other news. Until then – Love from John and Mary!