Carnival of Awesomeness, Part III
It’s impossible to call this final installment of our three-part look at the pageantry and splendor that is Carnaval de Quebec the most divine or fabu or even simply the best, what with the groovy ice castles and death-defying snow rafting and sexy snowman mascots that filled the previous reports. That said, Part III contains booze. Lots and lots of booze. And this booze is called…
And I’m not really sure what caribou is made of, because my hosts couldn’t really tell me. I suppose this could be due to the language barrier – or maybe they honestly didn’t know – but I got the feeling they were afraid to tell me. I know it’s part port wine, and I think the rest is basically the strongest alcohol you can lay your hands on that won’t cause blindness. Oh, and a bit of maple syrup. And maybe caribou blood. It seems the drink got its start back in colonial times when hunters used to drink it to keep warm. It’s a deep claret color, so I guess that’s how the rumor about the blood got started. If it is a rumor…caribou is one of those “that’ll put hair on your chest, kid” kind of beverages, except it’s really good. Which makes it even more dangerous because what tends to happen is one minute you’re saying “Hey, this isn’t so bad, I’ll have another” and the next you’re dancing on the ice palace stage to over-amplified French Canadian disco wearing nothing but a tuque, snow pants and a purple sparkle bra.
One of Carnaval’s most popular events, the Night Parade is populated not by Shriners on bikes and politicians waving from cars but instead a seemingly endless procession of things so strange and wondrous I began to question who dosed my caribou. Hordes of masked firedancers, two-story tall clown puppets and one phantasmagorical float after another passed before my widened eyes, each more mind-blowing than the next. But as soon as I saw it bouncing down the street, I knew all that was a mere prelude to the funkiest, most get-downingest float in the whole entire history of floats: The Disco Float.
My overnight stay at the Hotel de Glace will receive its own special report in Go Pink Boots’s State College Magazine column, but until then I will say that even though I was reclined on a bed made of ice it was surprisingly warm snuggled up in my sleeping bag. In fact, the night’s only discomfort came from too much caribou at the Ice Disco. I’d been warned to not, under any circumstances, get out of my sleeping bag once I’d gotten into it, lest all my body heat be lost and I turn into a giant, tuque-wearing popsicle. Four shots of caribou doesn’t seem like a lot of liquid when you’re drinking it, but it’s another story an hour later or so – hence the somewhat concerned expression on my face at right…
I’d ziplined before, but flying down a 500-foot long cable though air hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, over the well-wrapped heads of happy multitudes as slightly sinister carnival music drones on without end in the background was another thing entirely. Especially since that harness was giving me a wedgie so heinous its like has not been seen since Bill and Ted gave Death a Melvin, thus enabling them to escape his cold-fingered clutches.
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