For those of you that will be here during those festivities, I wanted to share the following with you so that you can truly enjoy our Carnival in a safe and smart manner. Hope it makes sense to you.
Some months ago and going on through few days prior to the Carnival event, you will find our gymnasiums full. Our tracks are hosting joggers that otherwise would not be there and within a special group of people, 'being in good conditions' and having 'stamina' is a priority. These people are the ones that will be in the actual parades. If their children are participating, they have to walk a shorter version of the parade several times, if they are in the lighting parade, they will walk that route at night, there are varied other smaller parades for specific areas of the island, the two bigger ones being San Nicholas and Oranjestad and they are practically back to back. All of this will happen with some exception, in the sun and often while carrying heavy "head" or "body" pieces as well as heavily sequined regular outfits. The only item that will not weigh a ton will be the two earplugs that almost all participants wear. Without the plugs, the incidence of hearing impaired people would grow dramatically on Aruba.
The other thing you will notice is that the actual participants may drink cold beer as they walk through all of this in the sun yet somehow make it and be ready to go at it again in relatively little time. Pure and simple, these folks are doing massive - continuous exercising in the sun and this is causing them to sweat profusely. It is for that reason that everyone isn't falling over dead-drunk. Many of the uniforms have skin tight long sleeves to protect against the sun and those that don't (if you keep a sharp eye out) you will notice the participants getting sprayed down with sun-blocks every once in a while.
So much for them - now what about you? Here are some tips.
Your best bet is to NOT DRIVE YOUR RENTAL VEHICLE TO THE CARNIVAL. Take a cab or go with friends in a bus to get as close as you can, then walk the rest to your favorite or preplanned spot.
It is best to go in a group to see the parade and even better if you are a part of one of the hotel trailers parked along the way. Make sure you have made arrangements to be in that trailer or group or "Roadside Watchers" or else you will be an intruder. (not nice).
The best time to walk the parade route is during the hours prior to the parade. During this time, the roads are blocked off and policed and walking and seeing the different roadside trailers is something to remember. I especially like the "Cart-Ladies" that sell the little non-sense stuff at insane prices or the weird hats etc. I always get a few bags of boiled peanuts and munch away. Once a year, what the heck.
While it is virtually impossible to abstain from doing it, try to not cross over the sidewalk barriers and go into the parade to be photographed. This has a series of impacts, none of which are good. The most important one being that it actually slows down the parade. Try to pose yourself next to the barriers and wave to the person to dance up to your location and have the picture taken. That is what I do and it works like a charm.
Work real hard at having a great time and not getting "sloshed" with the wonderful taste of beer while standing in the hot sun. It is a nasty feeling.
If you are standing to watch the parade, check to see if there are any elderly people sitting in back of you. The elderly are not fascinated with the sight of a jumping buttocks. They came to see the parade.
Gear to take:
Baseball cap or wide brimmed hat
Ear plugs (bring extra)
Sunglasses (ray ban type is best)
Plenty of lotion that does not run off with perspiration.
A couple of small face towels
Comfy foot wear. The pavement gets hot and walker-byes have no mercy
A cell phone to call taxi or other services in the event of need.
Backpack with liquids and light munchies.
Camera with plenty of film or extra memory sticks if needed.
Now for the ultimate piece of advise:
DO NOT JOIN THE TAIL OF THE PARADE! This is the group of watchers that grab on to the last trailer and create a massive human chain the follows the last trailer. This can be very dangerous and if you get into the tail, it is often hard to know when to get out or (when you do) where you are.
The above is honestly not meant to "PEE" on your parade. It is just advise I have gotten from various sources that are all concerned about the safe and smart enjoyment of the Carnival.