It's Uruguay biggest popular celebration; it's a strange mixture between Hispanic carnival traditions with afro rhythms, the result is something I haven’t seen elsewhere. Along the month or so it lasts a lot of shows and presentations take place starting with the initial parade in 18 de Julio the main street in Montevideo's downtown. This initial parade consists of different carnival groups called comparsas which compete for the year’s carnival prize, and walk all over 18 singing and dancing, and waving flags, and carnival symbols.
As it was just some blocks away from my place I decided to pass by to take some pictures. For the record the previous time I'd gone to this parade I was a kid with no more than ten years, and my only and main recollection of it was about "cabezudos" (meaning bigheaded), which are guys disguised with an enormous painted "head", reaching more than 8 feet tall that approach to children to scary them at the rhythm of music. To my surprise they told me that these characters are no longer very frequent, too bad, they rocked. Well this time I also got a little scared but not because of the cabezudos, you see, every time I took out my camera I had the feeling that a lot of eyes that seemed to have escaped out of mordor where watching it and following me. Nothing happened, there was a lot of police presence but it was uncomfortable.
I would like to say it was awesome, but it really wasn’t, the truth is that it didn’t live up to my memories. Between every comparsa you’d have to wait around twenty minutes. It disappointed me to see so much commercial propaganda in the flags, banners and carrousels of each carnival group. I felt the whole thing has gone very commercial. Even though there were a lot of cops there was still a feeling of insecurity. Next Friday is the second big parade in Uruguay’s carnival; named "Las Llamadas", it’s more typical of afro culture in Uruguay, with much more Candombe which a like and for me much more enjoyable.