Stretch. Pull. Yank. Squeak. A metallic red leotard makes it over my shoulders. I tie a funky mask around my bedazzled eyes, half concealing my overly make-uped face. I step into one fluffy, red leg and then the other. I zip up the onsie and pull the hood over my head. The outfit is complete. I have managed to transform from a English auxiliar to a Mushu-like dragon. I walk outside to meet up with a unicorn, a hula dancer, a floral nymph, a tourist, and 2 nerds clowning around. We are shortly joined by an oversized Pikachu and the Wicked Witch of the West. We hop on a bus and make it to the city center. The smell of salt water drifts through the air and into our noses. A cool beach breeze brushes against our bedazzled faces. My eyes are blinded by the sun bouncing off my friend’s metallic leotard. My ears are ringing with the shouts of people all around me. Welcome to Carnival in Cadiz!
First stop: the beach. We meander through the crowds, stop to buy a disco para la playa (my best guess at how to say frisbee), and make it to the coast. The ocean is cold but I don’t care. We walk with our feet in the sea until we find the perfect spot for a game. A pup joins in and turns our frisbee game into a full on sprint. A closed castle is the backdrop for our first group photo. Tiny cliffs make a the perfect spot to explore and take it all in. Grumble. Grumble, grumble. Okay, relaxing done. Time to look for food.
Bocadillo stands line the crowded streets where people are wander aimlessly. Alleys are blocked by people stopped to watch groups break into musical showdowns. Children dressed as whatever their hearts desire march to the beat of their little plastic drums. The cutest mini cookie monster gives in to our encore and plays a mini show just for us.
As the sun begins to set, the children slowly disappear and drinking in the streets starts to pick up. More and more people arrive to the peninsula. Plazas fill with a range of characters and costumes. I pass a Gofre stand that I simply cannot pass up. Chocolate joins the make-up and jewels that decorate my face. The bus is coming to take us back to our hotel at 23:00. A show starts in the main plaza at 22:00. The tent we passed on the way in is barely starting to bustle at 22:45. Next year, I’ll come a little later and stay a little longer. Maybe someday I’ll learn that Spain’s timeline is a shift to lazy mornings and sleepless nights.