Hate is a strong word. There’s really nothing I hate about Carnaval, especially given that there’s so much to love. But at times, over the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of a trip I took to New Orleans (I love New Orleans) one year right after Mardi Gras. The plane was full of NO natives returning home after skipping out on the madness. I thought I could relate, but it wasn’t until I experienced Barranquilla’s Carnaval that I understood the true depth of the complicated relationship that hometowners can have to events like this. Is it possible to look forward to something intensely while also wishing for it to be over? Yes, yes it is. Is it possible to value an event for the cultural treasure and/or economic engine that it is, while also complaining vociferously about the disruptions to daily life? You betcha.
As you hopefully know by now from my other posts, I’ve got mad love for Carnaval. But, in the interest of keeping it real, here are ten things that really get my goat as this weeks-long season progresses.
Espuma. Did I say there’s nothing I hate? I take it back.
This espuma war is still at a fairly acceptable level.
This year, I took my two year-old son Marcello to the Desfile del Carnaval de los Niños, or the Children’s Carnaval Parade. Last year, being the clueless expat that I sometimes am, we totally missed it. I realized my lapse when we went over to a friend’s house later that same day and everyone — parents and kids alike — had on Carnaval attire. (There is a definite dress code to Carnaval events; the more screaming-loud colors involved, the better.) When I asked why, their incredulous stares clued me in to the fact that the Children’s Parade is a big deal. But until this past Sunday, I had no idea just how big a deal it is. Continue reading →
Living in Barranquilla at this time of year, you never know when you might turn a corner and walk into a parade or party. That’s exactly what happened one night last year, when my husband and I heard music from our apartment. We wandered halfway down the block and were treated to a thorough sampling of the traditional costumes, dances, music, and cultural traditions that are part of Barranquilla’s Carnaval. Consider the 4-minute video below your “time lapse” Pre-Carnaval parade experience. If you live here, you may already know that there’s a big parade tonight, the Noche de Guacherna. Que lo disfrutes!
In some ways, Carnaval is all about dressing up in outlandish ways — either to hide our true selves in order to temporarily be someone we’re not (and perhaps give ourselves permission to indulge in ways that we normally wouldn’t), to allow a usually buried part of our personality to take the stage, or to simply revel in the joie de vivre of life’s excesses, good and bad. And yet, even with all the feathers, the makeup, the glitter, what shines through most is our humanness, our oneness, our inherent beauty. So without further ado (at this point, I recommend cueing up “Human” by the Killers as your viewing soundtrack), I present you with a few of the faces, a few of the people — a few of all of us — who made Barranquilla’s 200th Carnaval an experience to remember. Continue reading →
Something big is coming to Barranquilla. Very big. Bigger than Christmas. Bigger than New Year’s. Bigger than Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Bigger than the World Cup – oh wait, not as big as that. No one can compete with fútbol. But big. Very big.
It’s Carnaval – the traditional celebration that comes at the end of the church season of Epiphany and just before the belt-tightening of Lent. Continue reading →