The coastal paradise of Barranquilla, Colombia offers an unparalleled peek into Caribbean tradition. For a week in February, Barranquilla opens its doors and welcomes the world, throwing a genuine, and one of a kind show, an event not to beaten, anywhere.
Color and spectacle take hold during Carnaval, and this siesta from all things “normal.” Carnaval throws the city off its axis and into a permanent party overdrive, firmly rooted in the past traditions and origins of its people, cultures, ecology, and history. Months of preparation and anticipation by the people of Barranquilla, fuel this non-stop celebration. The time adds up to a weeklong, painted, studded, and dressed up bender. Impossible without its people, Carnaval is designed to celebrate their own Costanio existence, their home, and the immense pride they share for one another.
Taking part isn’t only encouraged, but assumed. Participants are always welcomed into the never-ending, spell bounding precession. Just follow along you’ll learn the way. Take refuge in hotels and eat hearty, as the continuous party spills onto the streets, at all hours. Without a dark place to curl up in the heat of the day Carnival can wear you down. You’re never far from a good time, and the rhythm will always find you again; even when it’s least expected. Dress boldly and wear good shoes, the more comfortable you are the longer you can go without quitting. The gyration of sweaty and anonymous bodies will always pull you back into the pool of music, good food and drink. Fun is the name of the game here, in order to take part, be prepared to leave all inhibitions aside.
From the kick-off, Carnaval’s ancestral garb mixes with intoxicating rhythm, in a powerful way. The city pulls out all of the stops. Standing aside and not dancing along in the movement and rhythm becomes an impossibility. For this one-week, travelers are able to see everything Barranquilla has to offer. The city is on display and at its most bold. Communal dances, designed to demonstrate a shared history of colonialism and slavery, mesmerize on lookers, bringing a smile to the faces of young and old alike. Carnival is an opportunity to see Barranquilla from its beginnings through to its present and into the future.
Carnaval is a recognition and celebration for the people of Barranquilla. As they remember their origins and their heritage they look forward into the future. Culturally, Carnaval is a time for embracing community, history, and a shared story. The people of Barranquilla shine a light on their home and their pride. It is not to be scrutinized, but embraced and appreciated. Carnival is a tradition of generations past, and Barranquilla invites all to come and look back through time.
Prepare to cut the cord to all things known previously. Come into the Caribbean coast, fall into the canvas of flashed colors and shaking hips, and don’t look back. Carnaval cannot be done half way. Embrace the party and drink in the culture, in this the most festive of times. Carnival is waiting, if you’re willing to go along for the ride.