Carnival Mayhem

Carnival in Provicencia has one main theme….volume, and lots of it. All aspects of the five day celebration were big and noisy, but definitely entertaining.

From mid-afternoon until well after midnight, music played loudly from the town dock. On Friday and Saturday evenings, big name artists performed at the baseball field, giving us a quieter night’s sleep. Others in the anchorage attempted to go and hear the headliners play, but gave up when 1am came and the featured artists hadn’t started yet.

A beauty queen contest was the main focus throughout the celebration. Colombia flew in contestants from around the Caribbean, and they were paraded about the island at every opportunity. The actual contest took place on Saturday evening, and was the “grand finale” of carnival. Again, friends who tried to go and watch came back after 1am without seeing the winner. We later heard that she was crowned close to 2:30am.

We’d been told by locals that on Thursday of carnival, everyone rides around the island road, and on Friday there would be a parade around the harbor. What actually took place was a bit different than we’d envisioned.

On Thursday afternoon we heard loud music coming from town, earlier than normal. I looked toward the road, just in time to see a truck driving backward….at full speed. He continued down the road until I couldn’t see him anymore, still driving in reverse. Scott caught sight of him in binoculars, and noticed that the entire truck bed was loaded with speakers.

From there, a parade of sorts began. Floats with the beauty contestants onboard drove by, and locals followed by the truckload (literally).  They also traveled on scooters, motorcyles and smaller pick up trucks. Soon, the sound of loud music blended with revving motors.

Friday proved to me even more entertaining. Sometime during mid-afternoon, we were suddenly surrounded on all sides by local boats, whizzing through the anchorage at high speed.

They screamed by, too close for comfort, with more of the boat out of the water than in. We were shocked that no one fell out, or that none of the boats flipped over, and were surprised at how close they came to the boats at anchor.

The town dock wasn’t safe either, as boats sped by the crowds gathered to watch the mayhem.

Their motors were screaming loud, as they buzzed around the bay, with more boat out of the water than in it. We were amazed how close they came to those at anchor.


Scott noticed a police boat (which he coveted), and we thought that would be the end of it. Instead, they lead a parade of boats, carrying the beauty contestants. Each contestant had her own military guard…interesting.

As the parade moved past, the many fast boats followed, and soon the back of the anchorage was awash in boat wakes.

The parade followed along the shoreline, and ended near the baseball stadium. However, the madness of the many fast boats went on for hours, and the noise and wakes became pretty unnerving. Needless to say, Howard was not a fan of carnival.

Here are many, many more photos of the carnival mayhem, on both land and sea.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”