Al carnaval palmero me voy,
donde mejor se puede gozar
«To the carnival of La Palma I am going, for it is the best place to have a blast» – that’s part of the lyrics of a song that palmeros (islanders from La Palma) sing during that day: the first Monday of carnivals in the Canary Islands.
Back in the XVI century there was a back-and-forth movement of people between Latin America and the Canary Islands which gave place to exchange, legacy and creation of wonderful traditions which tie both cultures. Language is shared, with words like guagua (bus), cotufas (pop-corn), or habichuelas (green beans), which are called differently by the rest of Spaniards yet Canarians do share with Latin Americans. Even the music and the rhythm which Canarians carry in our blood and emit like fire coming from our salty core. The island of La Palma is also proof of that.
It was during one of those back-and-forth travels that some sailing boats arrived to la Isla Bonita («the beautiful island», name that is given by Canarians to the island of La Palma for its incredible beauty, constant greenery and astonishing orography). From the capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma, islanders were being observed arriving from Cuba, showing off their wealth: the ladies with their white lace garments and sumptuous jewelry, the gentlemen with their Panamian hats and flax apparel… Bags, luggage, trunks, cigars and complements which they proudly showed, coming back from «sister Cuba».
The palmeros who saw them from afar, ran to the docks to receive them, paralyzing the city, due to their festive and curious spirit. Streets were crowded and noisy, fires were made, music was played, a welcoming celebration for the ones who came back commenced in the streets. Locals and new-comers, with their cigars, profiteroles, honey and cane rum, danced to Caribbean tunes: la habanera, el son, la guaracha, la guajira.
Years passed, and it was in the 1920s that a group of friends who met in the humorous society of La Poteca, started their parade of Indianos, to commemorate the said historical moments of the compatriots arriving from the lands far far away. They were known as discreet and witty people with a good mood and great vibes, ready for everything – especially to eat and drink without any issues at all!
Years later, and already in the 60s, the parade became a party and thenceforward, part of the Carnaval Palmero (Carnival of the island of La Palma), having that celebration institutionalized in the evening of the famous lunes de carnaval (Monday of carnival, one of the biggest days of these celebrations in the islands).
Nowadays, Canarians from all islands make their way to Los Indianos on the lunes de carnaval, and it is the most recognized, appreciated and looked-forward-to party by many. People dress in white, mimicking the ones who returned from Cuba, carry and throw talcum powder, and Canarians go via land, ocean and air, to celebrate the hispano-american migration which has known how to coexist during all these years, with affection, fun and good vibes.
Here are some images of this Carnaval for all ages:
DO NOT FORGET: respect the party and its tradition, dress white, byo hat, and don’t forget to play and enjoy, throwing and receiving (not in the eyes) talcum powder!