John Early | Aug 24, 2017
Carnivals and fairs around the world all follow the same rulebook for cheap entertainment: greasy junk food, unsafe ways to spin in circles and games designed to rip you off via freaky carnies. In Mexico, the carnival I experienced in Sayulita exemplifies just that. It is a night of laughs, questionable safety and copious head scratching.
Come along and discover the wonderful world (and logic) behind the traveling Mexican carnival! Vámanos amigos!
Throw a rock, smash a bottle… win a beer! Pay 25 pesos ($1.50) for three rocks. Hit three for three to win a six-pack! This Mexican carnival game will eat up your entire night (and pesos) so easily that by the end you’ll be convinced it’s a smart invention.
With beer at hand, take a loaded pellet gun to make the mariachi players, banda de músicos or Mexican band marionettes, play a song. Careful though, if you hit the wrong one, el Diablo will snarl at you and spray you with water.
Boliche: it means bowling in Spanish, except the only bowling you do in this family favorite involves throwing a very hard wad of tape at the guy behind the board to win a beer. This poor carnie’s job consists of wearing a rubber devil mask and dodging throws while making the most obnoxious and inaudible noises over a loud speaker. [Note: he was rushed to the hospital later in the night after a direct hit … and after a week of infuriating heckling, those staying in the hostels across the grounds felt little pity.]
Throw Mexican darts for entire bottles of tequila! After you win a bottle of blanco or reposado, be sure to give it a try and hit up the dizzy pineapple rides! Salud!
There’s a wide assortment of food options to choose from: Mini hotdog burritos, cup of creamed corn with mayonnaise, tripa (cow intestine) tacos or chicharrón (deep fried pig rinds and skin) with hot sauce … or maybe just stick with the deep fried banana and mango topping.
Land a dart on any star to win … a bucket of groceries! Move over stuffed animals, this game could gift you with corn flakes, crackers, dry pasta, toilet paper, instant noodles y mas! No wonder it’s mainly local mothers and backpackers who are keen to win the big grand prize…
What happens to an aging mariachi singer: you get to travel with the carnival and sing to the empty bleachers of a small baseball diamond.
Then there are the games where you wonder if anyone can actually make a living from it. Try the one where you take a scrunched piece of paper from the carnie’s hand after he has simply hand-written whether you won or not — you know no one has won in 20 years when you see the prizes consist of a couple of disc-man’s, the first Nokia cell phone that hit the market, rusty knock off watches and a vintage Casio black and white portable TV.
The Mexican Carnival experience: a rare exhibition of games and concepts you probably won’t see anywhere else!
John Early - Sayulita, Mexico
John is an award-winning travel author with a wild new book, Tales Of The Modern Nomad – Monks, Mushrooms & Other Misadventures. It delves into the crazy details of his decade of backpacking over 30 countries via stories, sketches, quotes and over 220 photos. It covers all the travel insight you won’t get in a guide book. To learn more, or order your copy visit www.modernnomad.ca