today cambridge held its own carnival parade between central square and kendall square. the route has changed from 2 years ago: now the procession starts on blackstone street, comes up river street, then mass avenue and central to kendall square. i knew where it was but it took me a long time to find when it started (1pm). alisa expressed some interest in going and called me around noontime asking for details. i left before 12:30, afraid they might be closing the roads. i managed to park right off of blackstone, saw the marchers getting ready, then walked up river street to central square and waited for the parade to start. the weather was overcasted and there were reports of possible rainstorms, but at most i felt only a few drops and it stayed clear throughout the rest of the day.
alisa called me as the parade was getting started: i could hear the music from the speaker trucks moving up the road. she was still in brookline, waiting for her bus. i got up from my seat and got into position on river street. the politicians all crowded in the front of the procession; i didn't recognize anybody. about 30 minutes passed before i got another call from alisa. i was in a frenzy of phototaking and couldn't answer, but i figured she must've arrived. later i called back and told her i'd meet her on mass avenue.
i found alisa wearing an attention-grabbing yellow sun dress. this was her first carnival parade so it was all new and exciting for her. by the time we met the procession was down to the final third. pointing to the marchers, alisa told me her mother would kill her if she ever wore hot pants like those. nevertheless, she expressed some interest in donning a carnival costume and parading around.
after the procession passed us by, we followed it to kendall square. the parade moved slowly so it wasn't hard for us to overtake the costumed dancers. some groups i recognized from yesterday, but there were some new ones (like the egyptian marchers). i was disappointed to see that the brazilian contingency didn't bother making an appearance this year (probably saving it up for their own parade in 2 weeks).
the cambridge carnival parade is the smaller of the two carnivals happening this weekend. what it lacks in size however, it makes up for in manageability. say what you will about the city of cambridge, but when it gets mobilized and pulls off an event of this magnitude, it's pretty impressive. apart from boston, i don't see many other local towns and cities we can pull off such a large scale parade.
at one point we were ahead of a portion of the procession and got to walk down the empty main street, following the eventual parade route. camped out on their side of the streets were local residents with their lawn chairs waiting for the parade to pass by.
at kendall square was where the parade route ended but where the festivity started, featuring a myriad of stalls selling anything from food to t-shirts to jewelry and pirated soca music. the place smelled like jamaican barbecue mixed with the scent of caribbean incense. there were even some non-caribbean kiosks, like for indian and thai food.
alisa ended up buying a pair of african tribal earrings ($5) along with a pair of nepalese wool beads bracelet ($5/each). she had to catch the train back into boston for kimberly's barbecue. i gave her my purple mardi gras necklace as a good bye present (i got them yesterday at the boston carnival).
since my motorcycle was parked all the way back in cambridgeport, i had to walk all the way back to central square. the streets, now empty of parade participants and spectators, were littered with trash. the sound of crushing plastic bottles filled the air as cars drove over them.
it was almost 5pm by the time i got back home. after a shower, i cooled off with some ice cream. it was temperate enough that i didn't have to turn on my on air conditioner, and the cool breeze coming through the window was enough to keep me from overheating. i fell asleep on the couch briefly, a lazy sunday afternoon catnap. for dinner i made some sichuan-styled spicy salmon steak (sounds more involved than it actually is: just a piece of spicy sauce covered salmon heated up in the toaster oven). i watched the finale of kill point, a pretty satisfying ending, although the 10 minute gun battle at the end seemed kind of boring and excessive (apparently bad guys and good guys had surplus bullets to spare).