Carnaval in Sitges

March 01, 2001

We didn’t really know what to expect as we got to the station. It was a slow start to the night, the rain and our hangovers combining to dampen our spirits. The mood was indecisive. Somebody suggested going to the cinema instead. We bumbled around, trying to figure out what platform to go to. The frequency of costumes was growing, and we guessed that we should probably follow the large group of men dressed as ostriches. After the usual exchange of bland tourist comments, we realised we were going in the right direction. A blue bulldog sprawled on the platform, gently dozing, and we realised how underdressed we were among the crowds of cavemen and vampires.

The train ride was a quiet one. We still weren’t quite sure what to expect. We’d heard it was supposed to be a good night, but we didn’t know what the story was. When we arrived, we took it easy at first. We had a meal and watched the place starting to warm up. We got a round of beers in, and wondered what was going to happen. Then the tequila started to roll, and we were away.

To understand the meaning of the verb to boggle, all you have to do is go to Sitges at Carnaval. Your mind does a series of gymnastic manoeuvres as you try to take it all in. Your eyes boil and you don’t understand, but then you start to assimilate the spectacle in your mind. Your normal world view is temporarily suspended, and the crowds of people dressed as monks and angels and devils and Simpsons seems entirely natural, as if this was just any normal Saturday night in a Spanish beach town. Insanity reigns supreme. But what’s really so crazy about it? It’s just a bunch of people dressing up and being wacky, getting drunk and dancing. How is that so hard for the mind to deal with?

We joined the throng on the platform and waited. After exchanging a few questions about the timetable, we fell silent. The first train back to Barcelona was due just before five, and the energy level of the crowd was low. The party was still going on, but we were out of stamina. As the train pulled in a cheer went up, and the crowd swarmed on board in seconds.