Carnival


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Published: February 1st 2016
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Jacmel is a small seaside town with some lovely old architecture. It was such a rich town during Haiti's coffee boom that merchants imported fine iron framed buildings from Europe. The buildings are all looking old today, the result of neglect and earthquakes. Jacmel is also a centre for Haitian arts, particularly papier mache masks.

Coming to Jacmel, we knew that we were not going to be there for carnival. But Jacmel changed the dates of its carnival and we got lucky.

Wandering around the town, we spotted teams making figures and costumes and people putting up stands - scary wooden structures, hastily nailed together. But when does Carnival start? Ten. Twelve. Two. Eleven. "It's all day". Or, the truth, "no idea, man".

We walked along where we thought the Carnival would go. The street was lined with stalls but still busy with traffic. Then we spotted a local bar with shaded balconies - a good vantage point with drinks and a loo too!

We had to wait a little while until it started but when it did, well, what a spectacle! Typical of Carnivals, there are plenty of costumed dancers and bands. But in this Carnival there are hundreds of people wearing paper mache costumes. Costumes of devils; of grotesque heads; of every animal you know, or can imagine ,or that has visited you in a nightmare! There are angels and the Virgin Mary; he-man and friends; lions chasing lizards chasing frogs; slimy lawyers and the presidents army. And running around are the" black people" covered in mud and soot and best avoided!

It was a Carnival like no other. The procession took more than three hours to pass and we enjoyed every moment. A wonderful, fun filled day.

Today, we are en route north, next stop Cap Hatien, our last stop in Haiti.


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