We were able to score some great seats for the Carnival Parade. Our taxi driver Vladimir seated us with his parents and made sure we were well taken care of. The women in charge of the seats delivered us water and beer whenever we wanted. She also walked John to a place to bring back some lunch food. The people in Colombia have been genuinely friendly and seem to want to ensure us foreigners have a good experience.
We enjoyed the parade of sights and sounds. The electric harp playing was beautiful and impressive. The costumes were beautiful and the characters entertaining.
There is also a tradition of spraying foam and throwing baby powder on each other. Foam would occasionally be sprayed across all the seats, dousing us all. We had the interesting fortune to be seated between two families with young children. Evidently Carnival is a time where kids can spray foam and throw corn starch at their parents with no repercussions. So we were often caught in the crossfire but then Keegan and I became the direct targets of a cute little boy. We got of easy compared to the parents!
There were times during the parade where I was uncomfortable. I was aware of the many participants of the parade painting their faces and body black, making themselves darker. They were dressed primitively, often brandishing daggers and swords. After the parade two boys came up to Keegan and wanted their picture with him.
There were also plenty of men dressing up as characterizations of women with big bosoms and bottoms. I had to remind myself that I am in another culture where I barely speak the language and have no idea if this is offensive to Colombians. It certainly is not my place to judge. On our walking tour the next day our guide Ana brought up the fact that people dress as black women to honor them because they are beautiful and the best dancers.
During our walking tour of Barranquilla the next day with new friends Davida and Juan who we met at our Spanish school in Medellin, we were able to go into a traditional home and get a bit more insight into daily life. Afterwards we stood in line for a incredibly long time to get into the La Troja dance party. Luckily we made friends with people in line, Javier and Rega, with the help of our bottle of Aguardiente, the local licorice flavored liquor. Of course they thanked us by dousing us with corn starch. When we finally made it into the dance party it was crazy crowded but Javier managed to make a dance floor and proceed to be the life of the party and dance with everyone. We had a fabulous time and of course strangers would just walk by and share their corn starch with us.
What I will take away from this event is the beauty, camaraderie and pure joy that everyone seemed to be celebrating.