Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mardi Gras 2014

This past week I attended the Mardi Gras celebration held at the Golf Course Clubhouse, where it has been held for the past several years.  This event is a fundraiser organized by the Nopolo Homeowners Association (the community surrounding Loreto Bay) with the proceeds benefitting charity and improvements within their neighborhood. 

Similar to other annual events that are held here there was a certain "deja vu" aspect to the evening, but what sets "Fat Tuesday" apart from most other events held here are the costumes.  Without doing an actual nose count, by my estimate more than half of those in attendance had dressed up, or at least accessorized with beads or a mask to take part in the festivities.  And many of those who did were in some sort of full costume, with some of the most elaborate belonging to local year-round residents.

The party had been underway for more than an hour when I arrived about 6:00 pm, after finishing my day at the Office and then returning home to change into my ensemble for the evening.  You may recall from last year's Blog: that I wore my Kilt to this event a year ago and I had been wondering what to wear this year, until my recent Visitors presented me with a very handsome Guinness Beer apron that had been purchased for me on their trip to Ireland last Summer.  Worn over a black outfit with lots of beads and a beret on my head (don't ask me why, it was a last moment addition) I felt as though at least I had made an effort, and so with camera equipment over my shoulder I headed off for the evening.

On my arrival at the Clubhouse where the party was being held I was somewhat surprised, by the presence of an Ambulance near the entrance, but then mildly impressed when I realized that it was there on stand-by and not responding to a call!  I don't know if this was in response to some new local requirement (but I doubt it - this is Mexico, after all) or an abundance of caution by the organizers, but I couldn't help thinking how things have changed here over the years!  After showing my 350 peso wristband pass and receiving a numbered string of beads (for costume voting later in the evening) I purchased some drink tickets and joined the party.

Once again the central courtyard of the Clubhouse was where a stage was set-up for the musical entertainment, leaving the rest of the space for dancing and chairs were set up on three sides of this in the colonnade around the courtyard.  Passing through the courtyard I headed towards the driving range area behind the Clubhouse where on one side a bar was set up to serve wine by the bottle or glass and draft or canned beer and bottled water and on the other side was a BBQ pit and food service area.  Across the back of the driving range was table seating, some under shade tents and the rest open to the balmy early evening.

Which brings me to another comparison.  At the same party this time last year, I remember it being distinctly chilly on Mardi Gras evening - but this year has been the mildest winter of the seven I have spent here and this evening was no exception!  Which follows along with my current theory of climate change (as opposed to global warming) - the planet is a closed system, and for all intents and purposes nothing gets in or out.  So when somewhere that normally gets rain is having a drought, it follows that more rain falls somewhere else that is normally dry.  (Consider Loreto, that historically gets less than 4 inches of rain annually but has received 3 feet of rain over the past two years!)  Likewise it follows that when most of North America is struggling through one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winter's on record, here in Loreto we have been enjoying the mildest and calmest winter it has been my pleasure to experience since I started living here.

I was drawn back into the courtyard to listen to the entertainment with "Histeria" as the opening act, a four piece band of young guys from near Santa Rosalia two hours north of here, accompanied by Loreto's own Herzon, a guitar master of many different styles.  Later on, when the party was going full steam, there was an impressive dance ensemble called " Gujiaki" from the Casa de Cultura in Loreto that performed two styles of folkloric dances in appropriate costumes.  Later on in the evening, the local favorite "Los Beach Dogs" took to the stage and filled the dance floor for most of the evening.

Along with appetizers and rice this year the organizers of the event chose grilled skewers of meat, fish or vegetables as the main course, which was a good idea for portion control, but more grill space would have probably moved the food lines along at a faster pace.  However, the lines provided a good opportunity for visiting and costume watching, besides, no one was going anywhere anyway!  Later there was a collection of small deserts which satisfied the sweet tooth and made a nice end to a dinner under the stars.

During the rest of the evening, along with the entertainment there was a silent auction for an original piece of art, and a 50/50 draw as well as crowning a Mardi Gras Queen and Costume awards, however, I confess I hit Baja midnight earlier than usual that evening and headed home before the festivities had ended.  But in thinking back over the evening my final observation has to do with the ongoing evolution of Loreto Bay and the surrounding community.

While this year's Mardi Gras party was an undoubted success with about 250 in paid attendance and turning people away at the door, I know from my own casual conversations with people I spoke to, there were a surprising number who said they were not planning to attend the party - due to too many other events happening at this time of year.  While that may not sound unusual to casual observer, coming from a place where not so long ago bumping into someone on the sidewalk that you hadn't seen for a while was reason enough for a party (well, OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit - but not much!).  To now  hear that people are choosing to skip a beautifully organized event, held within walking distance of their home, because there are too many other things to do - well, perhaps that is another sign that our little community is growing up - and that may be the best part of "Living Loreto"!