February 14, 2010

One Night Stand

Oh, Cadiz. Where should I begin? Just imagine the biggest and craziest Halloween party you've ever been to, add a dash of "The Hangover" plot, and multiply it by about 417,459,213. And you might be close to the insanity that is Carnaval in Cadiz.

Our night began pretty early as a big group of us arrived in Cadiz around 6 PM. We wandered around the city for awhile, staking out the best spot to hang out for the night. Several of us went to buy jackets as we were SEVERELY underdressed for the cold weather and possibility of rain. The crowd slowly began multiplying throughout the next few hours as we settled into our spot beside the fresh potato chip stand (OMG yum) in the corner of the main plaza.

Everyone was dressed up in ridiculous costumes like Halloween. But there were a couple of things that made it different from Halloween back in the states. First of all, people dressed up in group themes. There were groups of pirates, chickens, Michael Jacksons, you name it, it was there.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

A bunch of CD's?

Secondly, the women in Spain don't take this opportunity to dress up like a lady-of-the-night. For the most part, people let their creativity shine to get noticed without resorting to wearing a bikini.

The Berlin Wall, for instance. Too soon?

There was also a bunch of entertainment throughout the night. We missed the big parade because we couldn't see it from our spot and we didn't want to lose people along the way. But there were several small mariachi-esque bands called chirigotas, which are groups of singers that sing about current events in a really funny way. A lot of times they work in a sip or two of their cerveza into the song as they regale the groups of people walking by.

But we were not prepared for all the craziness! Spaniards seriously know how to party and we just could not keep up. Out first mistake was not dressing up as a group. We were picked out as tourists from about a mile away. We had groups of borrachos (drunks) come up to us all night trying to talk to us in their drunken, broken English. The girls were also picked on by the Spanish men, especially the blond ones. There were catcalls of "guapa!" and "tienes un beso?" all night.

This group of charming penguins asked for a kiss from Alissa for having her picture taken with them.

And as the night went on, our group became smaller and smaller as we lost more and more people. People would wonder off to the bathroom, try to meet Spanish friends, meet up with a friend from the States. I was babysitting one very intoxicated girl for a good hour before she tried to go home and disappeared in the crowd. I was worried about her but I couldn't risk my own safety to try to find her by myself. By the time I made it back to the group, she could have been anywhere.

People came and left from our spot throughout the night. We huddled up most of the time to keep warm in the freezing night. By 2 AM, we were kind of overwhelmed by the whole night - the cold, the smell of cigarette/ other smoke, the spilled alcohol from borrachos, the men using the walls of buildings as their own bathroom. We made a chain and made our way back to where the bus was supposed to pick us up at 4:30.

The streets were bone-dry when we arrived. They were soaking wet when we left.

One of our own making a warm bed out of a box of unused cups and napkins he found. We had to leave soon after as borrachos began to use our box town as another public restroom - girls, too!

Thankfully, everyone found their way to back to the group one way or another - even the girl who tried to go home! She said she didn't remember a good 4 hours of her night and continued to tell us a story that sounded a lot like the Spanish version of the Hangover, complete with waking up on the table of a Burger King, making friends with Spanish and New Jersians alike, and trying to pay for a 4-hour taxi ride back to Malaga with her American Express.

But after all of that ridiculousness, I think we were all glad we experienced it. It was definitely a spectacle and made for some great stories. But I would never ever ever in a million years participate in Carnaval in Cadiz ever ever again.

Americans: 0 Cadiz:3,423,012


Dr. Brother said...

I'm at lost for words.

Aunt Amy said...

All I can say is OMG....and that you experienced a real slice of semester abroad craziness while living to tell about it!