My friend eating cachapa con queso. It's Venezuelan, and so is she. That's why she's grinning so much.
What happens when you assemble Europeâ€™s largest gathering of Latin Americans in a park in South London? You have a carnaval of course! Which basically means singing, dancing and eating. And thatâ€™s just what I did on Sunday. Well, minus the singing bit. There were professionals for that kind of thing. But though I didnâ€™t sing, looking at the pictures I certainly made up for it with eating and dancing. Yes, I know, I seem to always have food in my mouth!
As you might expect on a summerâ€™s day in England it did rain. But only in the evening, and by that point most people were so happy about every other aspect of the day that the rain didnâ€™t really spoil too much.
Me and the new Venezuelan flag. One extra star for Chavez!
Iâ€™d love to list all the artists that performed, but unfortunately I didnâ€™t know most of them. I could just about work out the different regions that the music came from (ok, panpipes were a bit of a giveaway, as were the artists who sang in Portuguese or wore sombreros). But the music was the perfect soundtrack to a great day. There was a main stage with live performances, plus a salsa tent where people busted their best moves on the dance floor, which was actually just grass. And then there was the reggaeton and Latin hip-hop area, where the crazy kids were doing some intense footwork. I just tried not to embarrass myself or the friends I went with. No broken toes, so that was a result!
The Carnaval took place in Burgess Park in Camberwell. There was a procession and floats that travelled down from Elephant and Castle to the park to begin with.
In the park itself, all around the main field were stalls selling food from all the different countries in Latin America. Spain even got in there, plus Jamaica represented the English speaking parts of the Caribbean. There was even Chinese, Turkish and Indian food, but weâ€™re still confused about how they got there! Above each stall was the flag of the nation it represented. Of course I didnâ€™t know half of the flags, but I felt ok after finding out that most of the people I asked didnâ€™t know the flags of the countries other than their own. And I was very pleased that I managed to identify the Peruvian flag, which in turn meant that I got to drink chicha morada!
A Venezuelan, and Guatemalan, a Sri Lankan and me. It's like an advert for the United Colours of Benetton.
It was a great day. If Iâ€™m around next year Iâ€™ll definitely go. To find out about the plans for next year they will probably be on the website soon: http://www.carnavaldelpueblo.co.uk/portrait.htm