A small rock in the Atlantic

All about the island of La Palma, in the Canaries.

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Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Los Indianos

Los Indianos Parade 2007

The biggest night of Carnival on the island is Los Indianos parade.

In the 19th century the island was very poor, and many people emigrated to Cuba - the Indies. Some of them came back rich, so that the arrival of a boat from Cuba was quite an event, even though there were more boats to Latin America than to mainland Spain.

So we have a pretend boatload of nouveau-riche arrivals, parading along the main street. The women all dressed in beautiful white plantation dressed and the men in white linen slacks, frilly white shirts, and panama hats. Many carry suitcases with monoploy money poking out.

Los Indianos Parade 2007

And people throw vast quantities of talc at each other. By vast, I mean tons. Literally tons. The town hall gave away something like five tons of the stuff to people in the parade, and everyone else brings at least half a kilo of their own. The population of Santa Cruz is about fifteen thousand, and most of them are on the streets. And people come from all over the rest of the island too. In fact, people come from the other Canary Islands, and a few come all the way from South America. Every parking space in town is full, and parked cars line the main road to the airport for at least three kilometers. There are extra buses.

So the streets are heaving with people dressed in white, covered in white powder, blowing whistles and shaking maracas. (The top photo is from before things really got cracking.) All this starts at about five o'clock in the afternoon, and goes on until well after midnight. The morning after is a local holday, but the few times I've had to work, I've seen a few people still celebrating at eight o'clock next morning. Palmerans don't overdo things by halves.

And this year I missed it, due to a heavy cold. But you can see photos from last year at my main website.

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