By: Astrid Verstappen, Dive Safety Officer

The feast of excess and extravagance. A final illusion of abundance before stocks run low and fasting is no longer a choice. All week he is celebrated and honored, up until the day of his demise. Momo is king for a week and watches over the cheerful crowd with a round belly and a big smile.

The name Momo might be derived from the Greek trouble maker Momus, the exiled god of satire and mockery. He was one of the lesser and less known gods, but during the Renaissance authors brought him back to life as the critical voice. Later he became the embodiment of harmless fun.

Most countries elect their carnival king from a line up of tall, big bellied men. Bonaire is one of the few exceptions where the king is made from straw, wood, plaster and fire works. On Fat Tuesday, after almost a week and a half of partying, he is given one last farewell parade, before being sacrificed to the gods at midnight. With Momo, every trace of greed, excess licentiousness is burned, readying the partygoers for the discipline of Lent.

This past Sunday afternoon CIEE students gathered on the sidewalks of Kralendijk to watch the Carnaval parade with huge floats and elaborately decorated dancers. Later tonight students will take a pause from their school work for an evening of culture and witness the burning of King Momo, a sacrificial ceremony in the local town stadium after the king is first paraded throughout the streets.

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