So, my friends, it’s been a while. You might notice, near the blog title, I’ve added a link for a photo gallery. Now that I’m not stuck in a scary communist dictatorship under the employment of dictatorial Singaporean bosses, I can actually freely speak my mind and reveal my face on the internet with no fear of imprisonment or losing my job, thus, the photo section. I have a lot of photos of a lot of things, with a lot of commentary, I hope you’ll enjoy, and get to see the strange parts of the world as I see them. Just another word about the form of the blog, I’ll be posting a lot more photos, and probably less writing, as my time is pretty pressed here, and well, a picture is worth a whole bunch of words, so said somebody, sometime.
Anyway, the whole new country, new pedagogical system, new culture, the 2 subjects (I got stuck teaching English, in addition to History, and I am pretty ignorant about how to English) and 3 new schools that I work between has kept me busy. Oh yeah, and a social life. That aspect of my life has been gaining momentum. I’ve met a couple really cool people here, and feel fortunate for their friendship. Things are going pretty well overall. I like my job, my colleagues, my new apartment, my new motorbike, the environment here, overall, it's starting to feel like home, for the first time since I left America for the Great Unknown, 3 years ago.
Which brings me to Mardi Gras. But, not Mardis Gras like you Americans know, no boobies, no frat boys, no binge drinking. No, French Mardis Gras is more like our Halloween, definitely more geared towards the kids. I went to Mardi Gras once in Poitiers, France and it was great. A big crazy artistic parade through the city, people getting goofy, kids in costumes, floats, and at the end, the city provides free crepes and mulled wine for everyone! Really awesome homegrown feel. I know, too good to be true, right?
So, having such fond memories, I decided to check out the Mardis Gras in Nice. Along the way, I’ve been keeping up with this website, www.couchsurfing.org , basically a website for travelers, by travelers. Anyway, someone posted on this site about participating in the Nice carnival by pushing one of the big floats through the parade. Sounds great, I love parades, and participating is always the best. So I signed up, and one of my French friends joined me.
Well, Nice Mardis Gras is almost nothing like Poitiers. First, it costs money just to watch it, like 20 euros. Second no drinking allowed, everything very uptight and official. Not a party at all. Unless of course, you’re an under 12 french kid. Then it’s an orgy of “doing whatever the fuck you want”. Kind of like the kid version of the American Mardis Gras. So first, we get our costumes, which mine happens to be a full white body suit, that I dub the Human Condom (see photo gallery at top of page). Next, our job is to push this unwieldy 25 foot high mannequin through the parade, which should have only last one hour, but ended up taking 3 hours.
Not a big deal though, except that we’re all dying of thirst, and more importantly, I discovered that Nice Mardis Gras consists exclusively of little kids throwing shit in your face for 3 hours. French parents are usually quite strict with their kids behavior, except on Mardis Gras. And apparently the thing to do is throw stuff in peoples face. Silly string, confetti, glitter, you name it. Not a big deal right? Yeah, well, try having silly string shot into your mouth, and half a dozen 8 year olds ganging up on you blasting you in the face with handfuls of glitter and confetti, getting into your eyes, mouth, ears, everywhere. I don’t mean, they throw it in the air, no they roll right up to you, and BOOM, throw a handful of that shit right into face, as you’re struggling to push a 400 pound float through a crowd of people. My French friends took it all with the traditional Gallic shrug, but after 2 hours of that, spitting out confetti, wiping glitter out of my eyes, and scraping silly string out of my nose, I was ready to slaughtered some little French kids like an American angel of death on a Southern French Passover.
Overall, it actually wasn’t a horrible experience, only because it was one of those “hey, I can say I did that” things. I participated in Carnival in the French Riviera and although it pissed me off, still kept a happy clown face on, and did manage to bring some joy into some black hearted, rotten little French children. Every silver lining has a cloud, or something like that.