Photo Diary: Barranquilla, Colombia

Photo Diary: Barranquilla, Colombia

four days in the first quarter of the year a magical thing
happens in the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla,
. These four days, that precede the beginning of
Lent, are the moment of Carnavales; a festival
that inspired me to embark on my first South American journey. This
festival is based upon an allegorical fight between life and death
and in turn is surrounded by a peripheral world that bubbles with
this wild, triumphant life.

Carnavales sparks an infectious buzz throughout the city.
Conversations transform from tedious questions of “What do you do?”
into “What is your costume?” and “What is your performance?” as the
streets erupt into vibrations of colour and movement. The
headlining parade, the Batalla de Flores, cascades through the Via
Quarenta and ends in an all night test of endurance to see whom
will be the last man or woman, engulfed in glitter, dripping in
sweat, stomping around on the dance floor.

In a brief ten days that seemed to span for months, I wandered
my way through the labyrinth of Barranquilla, neighboring beach
towns, Porto Colombia and Santa Marta, and the wonderland National
Park Tayrona. I learned very quickly that the aliveness that
characterizes Carnevale doesn’t necessarily source from the
festival itself, but rather that it is a spirit that is stirred up
from the cracks and crevices of the country. It is hidden away in
the ramshackle fisherman town of Bocas de Cenizas or is plucked
from the central market downtown; sold to you for 2000 pesos in a
plastic bag of just ripe mango by a man whose full faced smile is
speckled by his few remaining teeth, meanwhile his friend stood by
trying to convince you of the benefits of buying a tiny black
market monkey for 75 USD.

It is a place that both rumbles with the quickness of urbanity
and oozes with the slow simpleness of resilient cultural history.
This is where the wildness remains, this is why we travel.


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