A Less Self-Conscious Carnaval in Asuncion, Paraguay?

"Are you going to Carnaval tonight?" the Taxi driver asked me in Spanish.  Newly aware that I had not, as I'd thought, missed Carnaval season, my answer was a pleasantly surprised "heck yeah, I wouldn't miss it!"

Later that evening a few friends and I hopped a taxi downtown and, on the way, managed to find a micro-entrepreneur" who was willing to sell us tickets to the Press Box.  Despite some doubts as to the provenance and validity of said tickets, we decided to take the risk .  

Carnaval took place on a still-in-development boulevard that hugs the coast of the bay of Asuncion.  Eventually it will be a beautiful place to stroll, bike ride, sit in the sun in front of a cafe.  This evening, it was a great venue at which to stage a Carnaval parade.

As we walked to the Press Box, still thinking we had a 50/50 chance of having bogus tickets, we noticed other micro-entrepreneurs doing an absolutely booming business selling aerosol cans of what we assumed was insect repellent.  "Uh-oh, hope we slathered on enough repellent before we left," I thought!  As some of the following photos will show, the contents of the cans were an important "audience participation tool" rather than bug spray.

Well, we eventually reached the Press Box where, wonder of wonders, we were admitted and rewarded with front-row access to the amazingly colorful proceedings!  Interestingly, I couldn't identify a single person who looked like they might be a member of the Press.  The press were all at the Coca-Cola section where they had access to lots of swag and other goodies.  

As the following photos show, it was an incredibly colorful extravaganza whose participants were deemed to be the best of the best from all of the regional Carnaval parades that had taken place around Paraguay during the preceding weeks.  Having such a close view of the proceedings, I noticed what seemed to be a very pure, almost innocent, joy radiating from many of the participants.  I couldn't help wondering if Carnaval participants in places like Rio de Janeiro are able to enjoy themselves as much, or if they feel pressure to live-up to the expectations of the thousands of tourists who flock there just for their world famous Carnaval.  For that matter, I wonder if they have in Rio as diverse an array of shapes, sizes and ages among their participants as were to be seen in Asuncion on this evening?  

As we walked to our seating area, participants who'd already walked the parade route were heading in the opposite direction. Their costumes were a good omen of what was to come!
No "Bob Uecker seats" for us, we really were in the front row!.
Colors, colors, colors!
A whole lot of peacocks gave their tail feathers for some of these costumes.
The "audience participation" consists of spraying one another with aerosol foam.
With apologies to Stevie Ray Vaughan, I was caught in a (foam) crossfire!
Emcees were a particularly popular target of the foam spraying members of the public.
The guys on stilts also were irresistible to the foamers.
Young and not-as-young marched in the parade.
This little girl struck a surprisingly professional pose when faced with one of the official photographers. She was savvy enough to ignore this obviously unofficial one.
It might have been past this little girl's bedtime.
Even after having walked a kilometer while dancing in heels, there was no lack of energy on the part of the dancers.
And, just in case there were any doubts about these photos being from Carnaval 2013, proof positive!

About the author

Rob Rout

Rob grew-up on a small finca in the Puerto Rican countryside, the son of New Yorker professionals with an adventurous streak who decided to explore an alternative to living and working in Manhattan. His childhood exposure to a variety of Caribbean cultures, including Haiti during "Baby Doc" Duvalier's reign, left him with an enduring taste for cultural variety and a first-hand appreciation for the broad spectrum of socioeconomic inequality. After studying Romance Languages and International Relations in college, Rob embarked on a career in the international business world; ultimately earning an MBA and working in the market intelligence area of several large multinational technology corporations. While this career path has been rewarding in many ways, Rob is excited to focus on "giving back" via a new career in the nonprofit sector; lending support to people who may find themselves closer to the less advantageous end of the socioeconomic spectrum and are working to improve their circumstances.