Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras… they all refer to the seventh Tuesday before Easter, one day prior to Ash Wednesday which kicks off lent (as a non-churchgoer I actually just wikipedia’d all of this…). Around these parts, they call it Carnaval.
There are no floats and no flashing of fleshy body parts in exchange for beads. It doesn’t look like Rio de Janeiro out here and I haven’t enjoyed any King Cake or pancakes. There are costumes, but these are mainly sported by little kids and don’t seem to follow any specific theme (I’ve seen bees, princesses, zorros and even spider mans). But I’m not disappointed. Because the Guatemalans do seem to have two main customs on this day and they are both fantastic, mainly because they both involve chasing people around town and throwing things at them.
Firstly, they throw flour. People walk around in roving gangs armed with plastic bags full of harina (flour) and chuck heaping handfulls at each other and into the windows of all passing vehicles (I learned this the hard way on my way home in a microbus…). So all day today there were people walking around town that looked like this:
- Make yourself a delicious omelette. Take care when cracking the egg to keep as much of it intact as possible.
- Wash out and dry the eggshell.
- Fill with confetti.
- Cover the hole with tissue paper.
- Decorate with paint, markers or dye (that will unfortunately rub off onto skin and refuse to wash off).
- Smash onto the head of family/friends/random passerby/that gringa.