Carnival, 101: Arubian Carnival


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Photo: Lil Tiger

If you’re unfamiliar with Aruba, it’s important to note that the approximately 20-mile long island has two main cities: Oranjestad and San Nicolas. Oranjestad is the hub of everything. It’s where the cruise ships dock. It’s basically where the airport is. It’s the center of the Arubian universe, more or less. San Nicolas, on the other end of the island, is the working-class city where the oil refinery has historically been based.

San Nicolas has a reputation on the island for a lot of things, some good, some bad. It’s often unfairly characterized as a rougher, seedier part of town because of its darker racial composition and the presence of brothels. But San Nicolas is also a hotbed for some of the island’s best music and culture. And, as it relates to Carnaval, the city is home to two of the most important elements of Arubian Carnaval: the Caiso and Soca Monarch Contest, and Jouvert.

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