CARNAVAL has come and gone, but since it’s still the same calendar month I don’t think it’s too late to write about my experience.

Growing up in rural America meant Halloween was my favorite holiday as a child.

There was an element of fear in the decorations and many of my friends’ costumes – mummies, witches, zombies – and it was a last hurrah before the winter weather took hold.

Carnaval, however, is not scary at all.

People dress up in costume, but there is no fear or gore factor to it.

It is a celebration where people collaborate with friends and go out en masse.

Earlier this month, at our local Carnaval parade, I saw groups of SpongeBob Squarepants, bullfighters, Egyptian pharaohs, NASA astronauts and a band of Cuban musicians – complete with guitars and drums.

There is clearly a lot of work that goes into creating many of these costumes and a lot of pride taken in being original.

Early that Saturday evening people started gathering in the main plaza.

By 8:00, the place was packed with geishas, members of the clergy, mimes and other creative disguises.

Not long after, the parade around town started and people were able to show off their costumes yet again.

I didn’t realize how this worked beforehand, but I was lucky enough to run into a friend of mine in the plaza who lent me an old pirate costume. Not necessarily original, but I had fun participating in a Carnaval experience nonetheless.

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