To get into the Carnaval spirit, I bought myself a wonderful t-shirt and marimonda mask.
The Marimonda character is one of the most popular and most important in the carnaval’s tradition. Stories about its meaning and symbolism are different; some say it represents male genitalia (monda is a crude Spanish word for penis), but others say it represents the people of Barranquilla (Barranquilleros) letting their hair down, dressing a bit silly and getting in the fun of carnaval season. Certainly, the backwards trousers and strange ties worn with the mask seem to support this.
All over the city people have marimondas on their cars, on t-shits, on hats. They are hanging from street lights, and adorning shopping centres along with other popular folkloric characters and costumes such as la negrita and el hombre caiman.
I blog a lot about travelling and interesting stuff I do- but I often forget about how I’m getting on in day to day life. This is just a wee update on what I do regularly, how I have fun and how I feel about Barranquilla.
I made it no secret in my first few months that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I struggled with the hot and humid weather, I found it hard to make new friends and the change from independent student living to being with a family and sharing a room, had me feeling depressed. In my first 3 or 4 months I cried a lot, I spent a lot of time talking to people back home and a lot of time complaining about how much this experience had been terrible.
In my fourth month things started to get better. I joined a dance class, and going to it 2 or 3 times a week got me active and prevented boring weekdays. I decided to ditch the attempt at making Colombian friends, and started hanging out a lot more with Beci and Sarah (The other two British Council assistants) and through them I met mor gringos and my social life started to fill up. Over time I found myself enjoying Barranquilla more and more.
Now I really like the life I’ve made in Colombia. Things aren’t perfect, but whenever are they? I still do my dance class regularly. We have a movie night once a week. I’m going out nearly every weekend, and Carnaval fever is setting in.
In the long haul, I’m super glad I stuck through the rubbish first few months. I’ve really started to love Colombia, and I’m starting to think about ways to come back and live here for even longer. My advice to anyone feeling shitty about an abroad placement is stick with it. By forcing yourself to be social, asking your friends for help and keeping a positive attitude you really will come to like your experience: as Dolly Parton says, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
Not here in Barranquilla! The weather is still hot and sunny- but to my delight the new year has brought a gentle but cooling breeze into the city that means its normally a lovely temperature. The humidity has dropped, and if the weather stayed like this forever- I definitely would stay too!
Last night Carnaval was officially opened, as the mayoress of Barranquilla handed over the key of the city to La Reina De Carnaval (Queen of Carnaval). There was a big ceremony in the Romelil Martinez football stadium, and wonderful fireworks that could be seen across the city. The night before I went to a parade … Continue reading
El Volcan de Totumo which is between Barranquilla and Cartagena is a large mound, which in its crater has volcanic mud. We went along as a group and I was the first one of us in. I was screaming, whooping and laughing like a monkey on drugs, but it was super cool. We got a … Continue reading