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.
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
So it’s a bright sunny Saturday and sick and tired of walking around shopping centres Christina and I head out to meet some teachers from our school (Lisette and Wilmer) at a small street party celebrating the culinary flavours of Barranquilla’s famous carnaval. When we arrive the sounds, smells and sights are crazy- it’s bright, exciting, loud, vibrant and the party atmosphere is definitely in swing as locals try traditional food and drink, buy and sell souvenirs and enjoy the festivities. We go inside the ‘Casa de Carnaval’ where there is a small museum showing the music, dances, costumes, masks and the history of carnaval.
Afterward we go out to the small courtyard and sit in the shade as the entertainment commences. It is hilarious. A man dressed as a gorilla; a pensioner singing old Spanish ballads; people dancing in different Colombian outfits; a man in a shark outfit (the mascot of the local football team, Junior) and lots of music. It’s all very funny, the beautiful Reina Civica (Civic Queen) performs with her not so beautiful Civic King, and an old lady decides that dancing with el gringo (me) will be brilliant. I think the 150 odd Colombians there that day will never forget the sight of a pale, 6’2″ Irishman trying to salsa in 30 degree heat. I know I won’t forget it anytime soon.
Afterwards Lisette and Wilmer take us to the zoo with their daughter, and some cousins of theirs. The zoo is quite big and has a huge range of animals. My favourite were the meerkats, which are even cooler in real life than on television.
Later that evening I headed out to meet Beci and some friends of hers at Barranquijazz, a local jazz music competition. Unfortunately I was late and only caught the last song. ¡Qué lastima! Not to worry though. Beci’s friends brought us to their favourite pizza restaurant, and the food there was amazing. I learned a handy new phrase, “Bajate el bus” (literally ‘get of the bus’, figuratively ‘pay up’) and we had a laugh talking about our time so far in the city. We ended the night playing funny card games and tennis on the Nintendo wii, which I of course, was killer at.
All in all it was my favourite day so far in Barranquilla, and I certainly hope there are more like this to come!