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Carnival of Barranquilla

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Alfonso Alfonso | 09:57 UK time, Tuesday, 2 August 2011

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.

Family reunion

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.

Carnival crafts

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!


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks Alfonso! You provide a lot of information about your city and its carnival!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Alfonzo , wow you take me deeply to a trip in Latin America , even I took google map as a help to have a better image of your country . Nice to know about your country history and Carnival of Barranquilla and it 's magic issues . Good Job ! I Love to be in that " no men allowed party " enjoying magic of colors and nice to see your love ones and I think still one daughter is missing !
    Looking forward for your future Blogs
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Marcos Umberto ,Pary and everyone,
    Thanks for your kindly comments related with my entries. You, guys , make me feel proud !I will try, through my blogs, to improve your aquaintance on Colombia , his people and culture.
    To Pary...I have some pic´s of my latter daughter....Juliana...coming soon.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Alfonso, I would love to read your blog it have many information about Branquila's canival.
    One day I'll go to Colombia to live it
    Wanderson from Brazil

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Wanderson,
    Thanks in advance for your comment.If one day, you came over from Brazil to Colombia ,you will count with my friendship.
    All the best,


  • Comment number 7.

    Hello Alfonso,

    How proud you are of your country, family, artists, writers, of your Colombian Caribbean! While reading your posts in July I thought you could be an ideal student blogger for the month so imagine my joy when I met you in August.

    Through your descriptions we feel the sweet, warm, magic spirit of the region that we knew through Gabriel García Márquez.

    Excellent the link to appreciate the famous "El Pescador". The voices, drums, rythm are "magic" in the cumbia.

    Thanks a lot for your post and looking forward to news.
    The best for you.


  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Beatriz,
    Thanks for your comments.Is true as you say...I´m proud of my country and my family roots.I was living in USA my last eleven years but my heart was always here in Colombia..in the Caribbean..and know... back again to my country I´m living the magic of the Caribbean, because ,believed or not ,this is a magic place to live.I´m working in my news entries so I hope you will find my writing interesting.
    All the best ,


  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Alfonso,
    What an adventure for a dull, down-to-earth Central European like me to be taken into a completely different world full of music and colour and imagination! Looking at the photos of your family cheerfully celebrating, I feel once again that a mix of nationalities and cultures brings out the very best in people.
    I'm very much looking forward to reading and seeing more of your fabulous country and family!
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Elisabeth,
    Thanks a lot for your comment.As you learned through my entries,I´m living in a place filled with joy and magic,were strong family ties are on top of our culture;on the other hand, your country, Austria have more magic than mine.You the Austrians have the universal language:The music and the best musicians in the world.
    I´m working on my new entries,filled with magic realism ,so, I hope,you will find my writing intersting.
    All the best!

  • Comment number 11.

    Hello Alfonso, nice to meet you! My name is Adielson and I am Brazilian. It´s very interesting carnival in your country, no doubt you told us a beautiful history about Columbia. Here in Brazil we have carnival too, and it always happens between February and March every year. But Rio de Janeiro´s carnival is largest carnival from Brazil and it is known all over world. It is transmitted alive to various countries of the world, and many tourists come here only to see the carnival. The carnival here begun around 17th century and it was influenced by carnivals party that happened in Europe.

  • Comment number 12.

    I hope to learn more about your country and their costumes. Best Regards! Adielson.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Adielson,
    Thanks for your comments.I´m pleased that you did take a little bit of your valuable time just to read my entries.And yes,you are right,Rio de Janeiro have the largest carnival in Brazil and is famous here in Colombia and around the world.Our Carnival of Barranquilla is full of similarities....with different music.You have the "Samba" and we have the " Cumbia";furthermore,we celebrate our carnival four days before the Ashes Day,same as Brazil do and many others Caribbean´s countries as well.
    I´m working on some entries about Colombia and our culture.I hope, throught those writings, you could improve your colombian´s acquaintance.
    Thanks again and looking forward to hear from you soon,


  • Comment number 14.

    Hello Alfonso! I hope that you are very well! It´s a pleasure for me to participate of your blog, you can believe. I think that is a great opportunity to share these things and can learn more and more about your country. The internet gives us this possibility can learn about others countries and people without going out home. Although our countries are neighbors I don´t know your country very well, but I have certain that I will learn so much in your blog from now on, and I hope to help you to know my country better too.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Adielson,
    Nice to hear from you again and thanks for your comments on my blog.I´m pleased for.I´m writing some new blogs about my country and it could help to increase your acquaintance on our culture.I´d get some interesting writing advices from Neil Edgeller and I strongly recommended you to read it.
    All the best,


  • Comment number 16.

    Hello Afonso.

    The Adielson is right in here we don’t have much information about our neighbors, because of this I don’t know much about your country, than for me read your blog will be very interesting. Tell to us the best from Colombia, we want know this country.
    Thanks for your invitation, sometimes I will to meet Colombia and my friend. If you want to come to Brazil to see The World Cup you will be welcome.
    Note: if I wrote anything wrong sorry because my English isn’t very good, but I’m working in it.

    Bye Afonso and everybody, have a nice weekend!

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Wanderson and Adielson,
    The world is flat....both together in the same place?...Funny!
    Whatsoever I´m pleased for your comments......Be on the look out for my next blog..It´ll have more about Colombia and one of the most beautiful cities..Cartagena de Indias,full of history.
    All the best and enjoy your weekend,

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello Alfonso! Thanks for your advices they are welcome! I keep on here waiting you to tell me more about your country. Our countries have many similarities, for example, beautiful places like forest, beaches and historical cities. But they have many problems too, like violence and drug´s traffic. Here in Brazil police authorities are doing constantly actions to combat the criminals, especially in cities where going to happen the World Cup in 2014. How is situation in your country at this moment?

    Best regards


  • Comment number 19.

    Hi, Alfonso. I have learned a lot from you both on the Colombia country as the English language. Thank you very much! I'd like to know how the autorithies are fighting the violence and improving the lives of the ordinary people in Bogotá. I've read in a while that the Bogota's government was achieving good results in this area.You know we have big problems with this issue... and shy combats.
    Fortunately, Adielson is more optimist than I. I'd like to see my country without violence. It's a great dream...
    By Alfonso, I'm waiting your next entry.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Sonia and Adielson,
    Nice to hear from you guys and thanks in advance for your comments.
    Colombia,as you must know,have been facing up hard times. Although, we are ready to face up the music.Generally speaking, the new goverment with the USA and UE cooperation and the issue of new strong laws ,are fighting,toghether, against the organized crime and drug traffiking.As a result,we are living today better than yesterday.
    All the best,


  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Alfonso!
    I enjoyed your blog very much! I would like to travel to South America. I loved your coulorful pictures and it was very good to imagine the Carnival. I love dancing and coulorful dresses!
    I'm looking forward entries!
    Have very nice days!
    Virág, from Hungary

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Virag 75,
    Thanks for your comment.
    As you acknowledged after read my blog,my country stand for his festive spirit.I am working in my new entry about Colombia,his people and culture.I hope you may enjoy when read it .
    Hope to see you soon in Colombia.
    All the best,


  • Comment number 23.

    colombia is a fine country with peaceful citizen.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Maderubami Adedeji john,
    Thanks for your comment on my blog about Colombia.I´m pleased for.Indeed!
    I agreed with you.Colombia have been facing up hard times but as always we are almost ready to face up the music.
    Moreover,the real drive behind my blogs about Colombia is just to " spread out " our culture,folklore and music.
    Consequently,the people around the world, that read my entries,have the opportunity to learn, from a first hand opinion, in" real time", about Colombia.
    In short,I hope,folks ,like you,like many others that follow up the BBc LE,make up his mind and start thingking about Colombia as one country filled with joy,music,folklore and good people.
    Hope to hear from you soon and learn more about you and your country .
    All the best,


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