A Photo Journal Revealing the Flair of the Mexican Fair:
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—where shenanigans are more prevalent, drinking is the national pastime and overall standards are always diminished—the carnival I experienced in Sayulita exemplifies just that. It is a night of drunken laughs, questionable safety and copious head scratching. Come along and discover the wonderful world (and logic) behind the traveling Mexican carnival!
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 standard will eat up your entire night (and pesos) so easily that by the end you’ll be convinced it is the smartest thing ever invented.
With beer at hand, take a loaded pellet gun to make the mariachi players, banda de músicos or Mexican boy 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 favourite 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 crack it open, slam it back and hit up the dizzy pineapple rides! Salud!
After enough beer and tequila, the carnival food might actually start to sound good: 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! Funny how it’s mainly local mothers and backpackers 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 that are so cheap and sketchy it’s a wonder that someone 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—which you know no one has won in 20 years when you see the prizes consist of a couple 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. “Amigo, it’s like a TV… in your hand, amigo!” He says to me like I’ve never seen an iphone, ipad or anything else made since the 90’s.
The Mexican Carnival experience:
an exhibition of games and concepts only conceivable…and legal, in Mexico!
Each country around the world has their own set of adaptations on our standard guilt of cheap thrills. So to conclude I have to include a photo I took at a carnival in Switzerland…no censorship on this family ride.