Carnival 2013 has come and gone. Let's all breathe a sigh of relief. In. Out.
I'm not a fan of Carnival. I don't think it's evil or anything; I just don't really enjoy it. At all. But it's a big point of pride for Barranquilla, and I'm glad that other people seem to like it.
|Let me break it down for you.|
For those of you who missed it last year: Carnival is Barranquilla's yearly party. Its timing is based on the Catholic calendar: it falls on the Saturday through Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. The idea is that you get all your sinning out before Lent begins--similar to Mardi Gras (culminating in Fat Tuesday) in New Orleans. Colombia is a historically Catholic country, and Carnival has a long history in Barranquilla (and on the Caribbean coast in general). People say that Barranquilla's Carnival is second only to Rio's, in Brazil. (Some proud barranquilleros would even flip those standings.)
So what does Carnival look like? Lots of revelry, dancing, music, and alcohol. There are parades--big and small--throughout the city, featuring well-rehearsed dance troupes in elaborate costumes. Every neighborhood, as well as the city as a whole, as well as pretty much every public school, picks a queen (reina) and joker-king (rey momo). People go out at night to drink and dance and have a good time. I live right next to a street of rowdy bars and to some boisterous neighbors, so my neighborhood was particularly raucous.
Last year, I felt like I should have a Carnival experience, even though I had a hunch that I wouldn't really like it. So I went to the big parades and whatnot. But this year, I didn't feel that obligation; I gave it a shot, I had the experience, and I was satisfied to opt out of Carnival the second time around.
I did do two Carnival activities--and only two. The first was Carnival at my school: I was selected as a judge for the high school's beauty pageant. So I did that. The second was a parade on the last day of Carnival (Tuesday), celebrating the death of "Joselito Carnaval," complete with extravagant dance troupes, fake coffins, and women dressed as Joselito's widowed, pregnant brides. What can I say?
And so it’s over. On Ash Wednesday, we didn't have school, but we did have a teacher in-service. (Many of the teachers showed up with the ash cross drawn on their foreheads. If you watched the news that day, you could also see a lot of interviewees had the ash cross as well.)
And now we're back to business--at least for the next forty days of so, until we hit Semana Santa (Holy Week), the week preceding Easter.
Rest in peace, Joselito Carnaval. Rest in peace.