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Even with the start of the 'new normality' on 21 June 2020, popular fiestas and most large gatherings and events are still prohibited and social distancing guidelines still in force. Dates listed on this site, therefore, are still subject to cancellation or change and we will update, where we can, when any new information is made available.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Carnaval Monday: Los Indianos



It's the turn of Santa Cruz de La Palma, the capital of our neighbouring island, to provide the curious custom of the day in the province. The video above is a promotional video for the Los Indianos fiesta that happens in that city every year on Carnaval Monday. Even if you don't understand, there's some lovely footage of the beautiful town - before it becomes besieged by thousands of battlers with baby powder.

The fiesta of Los Indianos, in which everyone (about 50,000 people last year) dresses in white - men preferably in the guayaberas (a.k.a. Beach wedding shirts) traditionally associated with Cuba and, also often carrying their luggage - better yet if it is typical of the period; leather suitcases and trunks, maybe filled with Monopoly money, started off to poke fun at the emigrants returning from Cuba, who, having "made their fortune" arrived back in La Palma ostentatiously showing off their wealth and finery. At the start of the 20th Century, around 7 ships a month left La Palma for La Habana (Havana).

These fiestas, to the rhythm of Son Cubano, also enact a talcum powder battle in the city's streets. First mentioned in writing in 1867, by José Viera y Clavijo as "los polvos" (the powders), though the tradition itself is older than that. The talcum powder - about 5,000 kilograms of the stuff was given out by the town hall this year - harks back to an age old custom of throwing eggs (the white and yolk having been previously removed) refilled with talc (or flour) and confetti at the masked carnival goers from the windows and balconies. Just don't ask me why this age-old custom exists.

Officially, these fiestas started at about noon and the parade carries on throughout the evening and on well into the night. The talcum powder stays around for weeks, apparently!

More photos: Indianos Santa Cruz La Palma 2007 .

If you think throats will be rather dry in all that talcum powder, don't worry, there'll probably be the odd mojito - traditional Cuban cocktail made from rum, citrus and mint - to refresh the revellers. The word mojito is derived from the diminutive of the word mojo, which is a Canarian word for the sauce that originated in the Canary Islands. The word and the sauce were introduced into Cuba and the Caribbean, due to heavy Canarian emigration. The recipe below is for the authentic mojito much favored by Ernest Hemmingway (and rediscovered by Michael Palin in his Hemmingway Adventure), direct from the coctail's birthplace, the La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba.

Cuban Mojito recipe

The original authentic recipe from Havana Cuba

1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Juice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint
Havana Club white Rum (2 ounces)
2 ounces club soda

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