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 shaving-cream-like foam is sold on the street in big spray canisters. The kids love it, as do some adults who should be called names I can’t say. It was outlawed last year, and it’s still prohibited this year, not that you can tell. Continue reading →
Posted in Arts & Culture, Travel & Tourism
Tagged adventure, barranquilla, carnaval, carnival, Colombia, expat, festivals, holidays, mardi gras, south america, tourism, travel
Carnaval – not just for the big kids.
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 →
Posted in Arts & Culture, Photography, Travel & Tourism
Tagged barranquilla, carnaval, carnival, Colombia, festivals, holidays, mardi gras, photography, rio de janeiro, tourism, travel
Readers, I’m thrilled to bring you a guest post from Paige Poole, a fellow Barranquilla transplant. Paige’s own blog, Transatlantic Adventure, includes fun and useful regular features like “Word Wednesday”—a must-read for people looking to bone up on Costeño (Coastal) Spanish. Paige also writes regularly for Uncover Colombia, a great source of destination-related info.
Brightly painted buses, often tricked out with special lights, are a common sight in B’quilla. Figuring out how to use them is the challenge!
After my family and I scored cheap plane tickets to Medellín based on Paige’s insights, I realized that she would be the perfect person to demystify what can be a challenging prospect for newcomers: figuring out how to get around. Believe me, if you’re moving here or even if you already live here, I know you’ll join me in thanking Paige for her incredibly helpful post, which follows below.
Transportation in, to, and from Barranquilla
When first arriving to Barranquilla, public transportation can seem daunting, confusing, and overwhelming. While at its core you can find similarities between public transportation in Barranquilla and public transportation in other big cities around the world, you’ll also find there are many differences and peculiarities that can cause chaos if you are not aware of them!
First of all, you need to know that the main methods of transportation within the city of Barranquilla include: taxis, buses, “busetas,” and Transmetro. Continue reading →
Posted in Daily Life, Making the Leap, Travel & Tourism
Tagged barranquilla, buses, Colombia, Public transport, south america, taxis, tourism, Transmilenio, transportation, travel
Colombia has its skeptics.
On the one hand, most of the official news about Colombia these days – and for the past several years – is extraordinarily optimistic. Despite the worldwide recession, Colombia’s economy contracted only slightly at the end of 2008 before returning to modest gains. Last year’s 4% GDP growth exceeded the central bank’s forecast. In May of this year, Colombia ousted Mexico from its #3 position in the list of Latin American and Caribbean countries with the most foreign direct investment (Brazil is far and away number one, with Chile coming in second). Last year, Medellín was named “Innovative City of the Year” in a global contest sponsored by the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Citi, and the Urban Land Institute. Just over a week ago, former President Álvaro Uribe – who, during his 2002 to 2010 time in office, led successful offensives against the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups – was voted “greatest Colombian in history” in a poll sponsored by the History Channel and the newspaper El Espectador.
But for every hopeful account of Colombia’s present condition, there are those who would beg to differ. Continue reading →
Posted in Photography, Politics, Travel & Tourism
Tagged adventure, anthony bourdain, Álvaro Uribe, barranquilla, caribbean, Colombia, economic development, expat, Latin America, Medellín, Puerto Colombia, south america, tourism, travel, Urban Land Institute