Sunday, October 18, 2009


Carnaval in Uruguay may not be as famous as Brazil’s, but I believe it is more interesting. This event takes place for about 40 days, from late January to the end of February.

Besides the colorful dresses, hats and masks, there are two very unique characteristics of Uruguayan Carnaval--candombe and murgas. I was lucky enough to witness practice sessions of both.

Candombe is drumming that was introduced by African migrants to Uruguay in the 19th century. Each neighborhood, or comparsa, has its own troupe. An old man with a felt hat and an old woman typically lead the drummers down a procession. Every Sunday night, without fail, several candombe troupes march down the streets in the Palermo barrio in Montevideo, banging away, wowing both locals and visitors alike.

Murgas, on the other hand, are performing troupes. They sing, dance, act, or perform a combination of the above. As I previously wrote, I had the opportunity to view a murga of singers, drummers and a guitarist practice in Tacuarembo.

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