'm finishing this story on Sunday morning. Hopefully it comes in time for those lucky enough to be here today. Those who are not, can use this piece to plan for next year :)
These last couple of weeks have been mainly about carnival in Cabo Verde. Carnival is a popular celebration around the entire country, and all islands have some type of event(s). But to be fair, there is one that really stands out. And with a history of over 100 years, it has earned every bit of its reputation.
And the past week, it was finally here. Carnival in Mindelo was back, after 3 long years of waiting.
Months of preparation and smaller events were leading us up to what is called Shrove Tuesday. The day of the famous Mindelo carnival parade. The day where Rua de Lisboa transforms into our own Sambodromo.
It's the day of the largest carnival competition centered around Mindelo's different neighborhoods and official carnival groups. A day later, on Ash Wednesday city hall anounced the big winner of the 2023 edition. Monte Sossego was, once again, the best carnival group according to the judges.
What usually follows after the decision is a little parade to the winner's neighborhood and 'HQ', to celebrate the victory and to share a moment with the supporters of the group.
As I always like to say, in the end there is only one winner. That is the city of Mindelo and everyone who is a part of that. It's beautiful to see so many people come together to create something that's almost magical to witness. But still, most people participate to win. The more the groups want to claim the victory, the better it gets.
Carnival has to come to an end. But there are thousands of people who would rather hold on to that carnival feeling for longer. They get one more chance later today. It's known in Mindelo as the 'funeral of carnival'. One more time to party around the street of Mindelo.
The funeral of carnival is a mix of two things: a carnival parade with a trio electrico and the famous Mandingas from Ribeira Bote parade. The Mandingas usually take over Sunday's in Mindelo right after New Years Eve. They are the ones who slowly put Mindelo into its carnival state.
A trio electrico is a large truck adapted for use during carnival. They are used in many big carnival celebrations around the world. There is room for a band, dancers and huge sound systems. Carnival in Mindelo is opened with one on Friday night, by the group Mindelo Fantasy.
Each Sunday that passes, the crowd gets bigger. The largest crowd probably shows up today, on 'Funeral Sunday'. Expect the typical Mandinga parade chaos, mixed with a fantastic band playing on top of the trio electrico.
The energy is insane, fueled by the drums and dancing of the Mandingas. Together with the crowd, they're able to keep this up for hours, while following a route through various parts of Mindelo before ending in the city center on the Avenida do Marginal.
It's impossible to escape the sounds of this Sunday. Especially in and around Mindelo's city center. The noise of the crowd and the sounds of the band will draw attention from anyone along the route. Those who don't join the parade, watch from a distance.
People join to watch from a terrace, balcony and other places where they have a view of the large parade dancing through Mindelo. One part I always enjoy the most, is when we pass Laginha Beach. It's a perfect scene to me. The crowd, the drums and music, the sun, sand and sea form a perfect combination.
Carnival is an opportunity for Mindelo to show why it continues to be an important city for Cabo Verde. I continue to be impressed by the ability of the Mindelenses to come together, and collectively organize the largest and greatest event of the country.
That is why today we dance. One last time. See you next year.