Feb
24
2009

Carnival: day 4

Tuesday, final day of Carnaval. No big parades today, instead  smaller parades and events scattered around the city. After sleeping in, I walked up to the plaza where traditional groups were playing all day and evening. Had a real coffee at the mall next door (at Juan Valdez, Colombia’s version of Starbucks). Heaven. Bought another memory card for the camera, since I shot 2GB in just three days.

Got the call from Juan to come over to Mayra’s neighborhood, where one of the traditional last parades was going on. Jumped in a taxi.. nice to see another part of the city. This parade was more personal, everyone just out on the street. I missed most of it since it was so late, but it was still great fun. Mayra’s aunt kept grabbing me and dragging me into the midst of the parade to pose for pictures. After the parade, we all hung out there in front of the house listening to music, dancing, and drinking. Nice vibe, all the aunts and cousins and grandparents and entire neighborhood hanging outside. Some of the younger cousins spoke English, so that was nice for me.

The festivities broke up fairly early, so I called up my other group of friends to see what they were up to.  Met them in front of a group of bars at the other end of town (whereas Mayra’s hood might be analogous to Bushwick, the area with the bars would be the East Village). They were already three sheets to the wind and reviving the game of spraying foam and powder in each other’s eyes which I had difficulty getting into, so I was about to leave when they said no, we’re all going to the other gay club. Had a really fun time being the belle of the ball (lord knows why – see previous posts for thoughts). Finally we said our tearful goodbyes and went to our respective homes.

I never ended up seeing the main theme of this final day of carnival – the death and funeral of Joselito. According to lore, this fellow danced and made love non-stop for 4 days and died on the last day. There are supposedly parades all over the city simulating funeral parades with groups dressed as widows reenacting the legend of Joselito Carnaval who is represented by a puppet (effigy) that is put to rest, symbolizing the end of Carnival. Imagine, women in funeral blacks crying over their beloved Joselito. Would have been cool to see this, but at least there are pictures.

All in all, it was a great four days and I recommend the experience. Just don’t come to Barranquilla any other time of year, there is nothing to see. And despite all the horror stories and warnings I’d read (don’t accept drinks from strangers or turn your back on your drink, because you might be slipped Burundanga which renders you helpless and without will such that they can take you to an ATM and get you to give up your PIN. Oh, and be careful of being sprayed with foam, because sometimes it’s dosed with Scopolamine, with similar effects) I had a perfectly safe experience, despite accepting drinks from strangers and getting repeatedly doused in foam. A far cry from Carnival in Rio, where this week 46 backpackers in two hostels were robbed with guns and grenades. Oh, and 10 other tourists were robbed while on a rainforest tour. Yikes!

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