Carnival of Barranquilla
Barranquilla, in the Colombian northern coast and one of the main sea ports located in the Atlantic Ocean,is part of that chain of cities that make up the Colombian Caribbean, as a region full of folklore,music, joy ,magic and yellow butterflies as masterfully described by Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,in his book One hundred years of solitude,wich gave him the privilege of win , in 1982, the Nobel Prize in Literature.
At early 18th century, a first wave of inmigrants,fleeing from various european countries, looking for a fresh start in this land and the second wave, running away from the WWII, landed in the now ruined Puerto Colombia Wharf, only with a lightweight luggage, a lot of memories and a huge wishes to begin again on these lands to them unknown. So as hundreds of italians were,german,polish,spaniards and folks from many others european countries came over, of wich say, the first thing heard ,was the sound of distant drums, beats of hands and the acute and sweet sound of the reed ditch flute or "Flauta de millo". Later, those folks, learned that this sound belonged to the rhythm of deep african african roots called "cumbia". Just follow up this link and you will learn about that , as our ancestors did.
Later, the newly-arrived, were voluntarily conquered by the cadenced motion of hips of our womens when danced "cumbia",and it was then, decided to stablish their families in these lands. One hundred fifty years later,the sound of drums,flutes and the cumbia still in the air, so not our elders, that departed before us, leaving established strong families.
My family were reunited (see photo) to celebrate the 54th wedding anniversary of two of our patriarchs Cesar and Janeth. Cesar with strong caribbean roots and Janeth with palestinian ancestors. As Cesar and Janeth, our family is a mix of nacionalities and cultures from Palestine, Germany, Italy, Spain, USA and of course Colombia. As well as my family is, many others caribbean´s families have similarities. So then, the required question is: Wich point may have in common this families to become a single one every year?...Guess the answer? simple...THE CARNIVAL! The great and magic feast of the Caribbean. But ,when the Carnival of Barranquilla will take place?...No joke! Four days before the Ashes Day.....next year. But from now, you - as our ancestors did - start to hear the sounds of drums, flutes and if you are walking around the streets any time, don´t be surprised to watch folks and ghosts dancing together "cumbia"and making preparations in advance for our carnival. Don´t forget...you are in the magic Caribbean. Everything could happen. Magic and reality or magical realism?
The carnival has not begun yet, but already is here, in every home, in every family, in every corner of Barranquilla. Guess where the magic start and where the reality is, becomes a riddle. The city of Barranquilla chooses his "Queen of the Carnival" and also our "King Momo". Both, leading the corresponding celebrations from the beginning of the preparations, but also the husband of the Queen, one happy, boisterous and boozer ghost called "Joselito Carnaval" make his appearance and you can see him sneaking up from behind the Queen´s shoulders, enjoying the festivities, dancing, eating and drinking heavily as must be. The last day of carnival is the Ashes Day,and only at that moment when the sun rise up, not before, no later, Joselito died and you may see his funeral on the streets, the Queen beside his coffin as the revellers and mourners, crying his departure and asking Joselito to be back again next year. Then, all those folks go into the church begging pardon of his sins - if any - commited in carnival. Things like this only happen in the Caribbean, our magic region. Ours housewives, contaminated by "Joselito Carnaval" boisterous and partying spirit declared his independence for mens and decided to start his owns carnival celebrations with a kind of custom ball called "Fiesta de Polleras" were them arrived wearing dresses with long skirts on vivid colours, typical of the Caribbean, and a single and unison voice: "No mens allowed!The "cumbia" is here..Enjoy!" If you don´t believe that just take a look in the photo below:
As the carnival is coming, artisans came over from nearby villages to Barranquilla, offering theirs crafts wich are important components of the celebration.
Those artisans, used to offer his mostly handcrafted articles in shacks or kiosks as showed in the photo so folks from Barranquilla queue to buy it. In the photo from right to left my wife, daughter and sister-in-law in front of one, doing what is suppose and mandatory to do:Buying handcrafted articles for carnival.
In my next entry, I´ll have more about the Carnival of Barranquilla and somethings related with Cartagena de Indias, the historic city, filled out with stories about schooners, pirates, treasures and lots of magic. I´m going to tell you, don´t be afraid, if walking those streets at night - out the blue - you see a passer by ghost wearing 17th century old fashioned clothes carry on a musket or you get terrified hearing the slaves´ lament. This is the Caribbeann.This is our magical realism.
All the best!