Fools can be found everywhere, even in the most distant corners of the earth. but when real jesters from dozens of nations join forces, the spectacle is perfect. like this weekend on the seychelles island of mahé in the indian ocean. a 55-member delegation from düsseldorf, including a prince and princess couple, solo marie and dance guard, was also present. they showed islanders and tourists how carnival is celebrated in germany. "even the head of state, james michel, was totally thrilled and clapped along as the rhinelanders passed by," said german honorary consul kerstin henri proudly.
This was only the second edition of the "Carnaval International de Victoria" in the island's capital: "Last year the event was much smaller and there weren't as many tourists either," explained Lena Hoareau, a spokeswoman for the local tourism authority, to the news agency dpa. This time, thanks to intensive advertising at tourism fairs and travel agencies, the parade attracted so many visitors from all over the world that it was almost impossible to find a hotel room anywhere on the island.
That's why the passengers of the wrecked cruise ship "Costa Allegra", who want to continue their holiday in the Seychelles, had to be taken to the neighbouring islands, mostly by boat, on Thursday as well. They missed the street party - but they probably didn't feel like celebrating after the disaster sea voyage anyway. On the other hand, the carnival itself benefited from the misfortune: "So many international journalists flew in because of the arrival of the ship, who would normally never have been here", Henri rejoiced, "They almost all stayed to report on the parade".
"melting pot of cultures" was the appropriate motto. colourfully decorated floats, dancing groups and costumed people from all over the world marched through the palm-lined and man-made streets. represented were the seychelles themselves, but also the british "notting hill" carnival, France, kenya, indonesia, korea, china and the caribbean state of trinidad and tobago. there was drumming, singing, spitting fire and dancing exuberantly. the russians had arrived in mahé on a military ship and sent dozens of navy soldiers in the colourful street parade, showing, among other things, combat and karate poses.
Even before the carnivalists from Düsseldorf arrived, the most important utensils for the party had arrived on the island of dreams: "We sent a keg of Altbier ahead of time so as not to have any problems with customs," said Princess Venetia Anke Conti Mica. Yes, but in the Rhineland it is actually Lent, now that the great days there have already been over for a few weeks? "We have to go through that now. We'll have another drink now and then enter Lent a little later," said Prince Thomas Puppe alias Thomas II.
It got funny when the prince and his wife and adjutants shouted "Helau!" into the crowd. The battle cry is unknown in the Seychelles. The islanders greet back enthusiastically: "Hello!"
As wonderful as it was for the German fools to march along in the island paradise - the heat was getting to them under their wigs and hats. "But at least we don't have to put on five pairs of tights on top of each other here, like in the Düsseldorf winter," laughs Mariechen Nadine Reichert of the Düsseldorf Tanzgarde. Despite an overcast tropical sky, temperatures rose to over 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity.
The idea for the carnival was born after the concept and the brand "Vanilla Islands" was created in 2010. besides the Seychelles, the group includes the other islands in the turquoise blue Indian Ocean: Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and the Comoros, which have joined forces to boost tourism on all the islands involved with innovative events.
And what is the conclusion of the Düsseldorf fools? "People react very differently here, they are happy when we dance and didn't just come for the camels," said one Mariechen. And the Prince? He found it "exciting to see how other countries celebrate carnival", because carnival is not a local thing, it is everywhere.