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By Colin Yeo

Coming from a background of studying theater design and production, I was very lucky to be assigned Aracely as my host mom. Aracely is incredibly passionate about Carnaval.

Uruguay has a rich Carnaval culture, with rehearsals happening throughout the months leading into Carnaval season. The first event that Ara brought me to was a llamada, which is a parade with Candombe drumming and dancing. There were 13 groups in total, each with their set of flag holders at the front, followed by dancers, and finally the drummers. It was a long afternoon of high energy rhythms and dancing. Ara’s son, Diego was a drummer in the last group. It was wonderful to see Ara’s pride as she watched and took photos as Diego passed by.

She explained to me that this is just a practice run for their llamadas during Carnaval, where they will be adorned in full costume and decor.

The second event Ara brought me to was a Murga rehearsal with Diego’s group. They were still in early stages, primarily working on their opening number. It was neat to see them all tucked into a room of this club, which Ara explained to me has been the same club they have used for years, even when Diego was little. Their voices were almost too loud for such a small space but the melodies and voices blended beautifully. Ara told me that when they move outside in the warmer months with microphones and speakers, it is a whole different experience.

You can tell how much she loves everything Carnaval, as she is always eager to share, and always eager to go to the next event. This has been a lovely way of getting a look into Uruguay’s culture.

Colin and his host mom, Aracely

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