1. Know what you are getting into
Carnival is a week long celebration in all of Spain that involves comedic theatre shows (that you can watch on television), lots of costume shop sales and of course, drinking. The most well-known celebration though, is held in Cadiz, which is the oldest city in Spain. Cadiz is a small city by the coast that hosts a famous street party on Saturday in conjunction with the traditional carnival festivities. To give you a better visual, think ginormous, unlimited Halloween-frat party but with a wider age range and even wider range in costumes. The party starts around 9pm and doesn't end until the morning. Most people come from different cities that will send buses to and from Cadiz. Kind of like your grad-night ceremony, the bus sends you to Cadiz and picks you up in the morning. In between, they leave you to your own chaotic, drunken devices. May the odds be ever in your favor.
2. Wear the shoes you care about least, but make sure they are comfortable
Because you will do a lot of walking. And there is a lot of pissing. Guys and girls piss all along the streets, all night long. The best is when you see a row of princesses standing along the street with their penises whipped out, doing their business. It's cute because they're like bathroom buddies, but guys!
3. Go all out with your costume, because everyone else is
One of the best things about Carnival is that it isn't just a parade of girls in their underwear and bra costumes, trying to best each other in who has the skinniest body and skimpiest outfit. People here take the meaning of costumes literally. The most common costumes of the night that I saw were: chickens, cows and pirates. And let me just say, most of those chicken men I saw were pretty damn sexy. But there was pretty much everything you could think of, from playing cards to the Joker to spidermen, and lots and lots of cross dressers. Spanish guys know what's up.
4. There will be body parts
Oh yeah, fake boobs and giant penises were also a popular costume accessory. Just go with it, it's *~!*~cArNIvAaAaLlLlL~*!*~
5. You might see your mom there
Seriously, there were some upper-middle aged folks walking around, with their plastic beer cups and giant cervezas in hand. Try to get a picture with them if you can because they're awesome.
6. Dress Warm
When you're drinking and walking around in entirely crowded streets, you don't feel the cold. But as the night transitions into morning and earlier buses start leaving, you start to feel the cold. No one cares about costumes at this point, it's best to just layer up. Especially if your group decided to go all out and isn't leaving until 6:45 am.
I chose to bring a backpack and fill it with booze, jackets, a water bottle and a lot of snacks. There are definitely pros and cons to bringing a backpack (note: our friend Taylor left her backpack to go to the bathroom and got it stolen), mostly regarding thief and pickpocketing. But personally, I'm pretty cautious about my stuff especially when I am partying in a foreign place. If you keep your belongings on you at all times or make sure someone is always watching it, you shouldn't have a problem. Besides, people are too busy drinking and peeing on streets to pickpocket you.
8. Be ready to walk
Kind of along the same lines as bringing comfortable shoes, carnival isn't exactly one specific event. When you get dropped off, no one really tells you what is going on. All you see is that you are all the sudden completely surrounded by drunk, dressed up people. So you follow the crowd. Except as you keep walking you realize the streets get more convoluted and it becomes more like a maze than singular pathway, and there really is no destination. The point of carnival is to do just that: walk the streets, talk and meet and take pictures with new people, and drink continuously. There will probably be lots of shouting and loud singing involved, too.
9. Take pit stops for the bathroom
Honestly, ladies, we can do anything men can do. And if the time calls for it and you got to go, it is totally okay to pee in the streets. My friends and I formed friendship circles and had females take turns peeing in privacy. It isn't really a big deal, we can make it work. But personally, I would advise just stepping into the closest open bar and peeing there. The streets are literally flooded with a disgusting mixture of booze and other people's piss, and my friend Lyna accidentally flashed her ass at some guys who were looming in the corner. Oh, and I think I splashed pee on my friend Will. Talk about
friendship on crack...sorry Will!
10. Pee before you get back on the bus
Why is carnival sounding to be all about taking a piss? Anyways, you are in for a long bus ride so you would rather take a piss on a piss-infested alleyway surrounded by drunken strangers than have your kidneys explode on that 4 hour bus ride. Trust me.
11. Spanish buses are the worst! Be prepared!
Our spanish bus was literally moving at 30 mph, making our supposed "3 hour trip" turn into approx 6 hours. Don't be the group that stupidly decides to start drinking right away because 1) you have a long night ahead of you and 2) again, what will you do when you have to pee? IT'S ALL ABOUT PLANNING AROUND PEEING CONSTRAINTS.
Your spanish bus will also likely start playing really horrible 80s spanish music at full blast on your ride home, at 6:45 am, when your poor exhausted body just wants to sleep. You'll sleep through it, but you will probably be really annoyed and wake up with the worst songs ever stuck in your head.
12. People are going to yell at you if you're Asian
If Lyna and I had a dollar for every time we heard "CHINITAAAAAAAA," I wouldn't be paying tuition anymore. Lyna and I worked with it though and just laughed back, YEAAAA, CHINITTAAAAA. WANT A PICTURE WITH THE CHINITAAAAS? Honestly, people weren't trying to be offensive and everyone was drunk. Whatever. We made it work.
13. Don't fixate on a big group
Even though we came in a big group, we got separated almost instantly. Me and Lyna decided to utilize the buddy system approach going in, because we expected this to happen. We just made sure that at the very least we were always together in order to maximize safety and fun. Us Chinitas had a fcking good time together though before we somehow reunited with people.
14. You find people when you don't try
This is a rule of thumb for almost everything in Europe, but it proved especially true last night. Don't try to find or reunite with your group, it honestly won't work so don't waste your phone minutes. If you keep walking around with your buddy, eventually you will miraculously run into people you know. I don't really understand why this is so, but it is.
15. Let Go and Have Fun
Honestly, being stuck in a freezing city without any means of going home is daunting. I've definitely never partied that long (nor been around that much piss...) in my entire life. But I definitely made it work and had an absolute blast. Keep an open mind too. Take pictures with people. Talk to people and let them talk to you. Take shots with strangers. Y.O.C.O: You Only Carnival Once. And towards the end, when everyone is starting to feel really cold and tired and just wants to go home and sleep, it is important to keep your spirits up. It's all part of this unique experience not many people get to have.
16. Have Fun but don't go too hard
You don't want to be that person throwing up or feeling nauseous on the bus. Nor do you want to be that person getting sick on the piss infested streets. Not that I was this person, but just saying. And actually, despite the crazy party that Cadiz is, I didn't see much of this kind of behavior while I was walking around. Europeans know how to party just the right amount, case #195 of things Europeans do better than us.