The next week went on much the same as the previous: meetings and reading at the Centro Leon interspersed with a few interviews. These interviews included follow-ups with some people I’d interviewed years before, but this time I needed to ask them questions specifically about the dances and movements of carnival in order to prepare for my upcoming tertulia on the topica. So I went back to talk with Sergio “Mochila Hijo” once again, now in an internet center where he sometimes works, and with Raudy Torres in his home. The two of them are the best-known Roba La Gallinas in Santiago – this being a typical transvestite character of carnival here – but the first falls within the “traditional” category and the second within the “fantasy.” Some say the first is the Roba La Gallina of the barrios, and the second, of the upper classes. I also interviewed Carlos, head of the group of lechones of Pueblo Nuevo called Los Reyes del Mambo, in his place of work: a sign- and banner-making shop behind the Pueblo Nuevo market.
The next task at hand was to prepare my costume for Sunday’s carnival. The tailor was supposed to have finished it by Saturday, giving me enough time to stick on all the bells and mirrors it still lacked. Naturally, things didn’t work out that way. On Friday, he still was not finished, so I couldn’t give it the final lookover. On Saturday, also no word. But I did hear from Luc, the Frenchman of Samaná, that he wanted to come to Santiago to experience some culture, so I invited him to join Los Confraternos for the day. (He didn’t know it yet, but he would certainly be put to work filming.)
Well, when I went to Tonito’s on Sunday around noon, it started pouring rain again, as it had been doing most of the week, and we couldn’t find the tailor. Tonito went out in search of the costume and brought it back, but there was just no way I was going to be able to wear it that day. There was no elastic at the wrists or ankles, the sloppy edges of the design were sticking out and needed to be trimmed, more trim was needed to fill in empty spots, and one design element was on upside down! Also, the top was cut way too big for me so I had football shoulders, but that is just the way it’s going to be, I guess. At least the design I’d come up with did indeed look cool – or it would when finished. I worked on some of the trimming as we waited for the tailor to come by so I could discuss this stuff with him, but by 3:30 he still hadn’t shown, I didn’t know where Tonito was, and I was worried the group would leave without me, so I hotfooted it down to Betanias.
Where they told me that carnival had been officially cancelled for the day.
First time that has happened in my four years of carnival. Bad luck for me, as it meant I’d lose one of my five research days, and bad luck for Luc, since he didn’t get to see any Santiago culture after all. I gave up, did some shopping, and ate my first yaroa – a kind of Santiago street food belly bomb made of mashed sweet plantains smothered in cheese and Dominican special sauce. Better luck next week…