Carnaval just ended. The celebration is officially only 4 days, but with 4-6 weeks of “pre-Carnaval,” the party has been going on here in coastal Colombia for quite a while. It takes over. Decorations are everywhere. New clothes are being sold. It is a swirl of parades and performances and concerts, all providing people excuse after excuse to party. School days are shortened so that teachers can learn their dances. Class periods are spent with students learning theirs. Events are organized in school to focus on the cultural and historical aspects of the celebration. Of course, as Peace Corps Volunteer in the education sector, the impact on schools is what I am closest to.
Aside from this disruption, though, there is so much about Carnaval that I love and will look back on fondly after my time here is up.
What will I miss?
The colors – so much color! This is particularly apparent on clothing and accessories, which leads me to…
The black t-shirts with their costeñol sayings in neon script (the ones pictured above aren’t very neon). I don’t understand about half of them, because they’re all slangy, but I certainly understood more this year than I did last year! That also means that I’m learning vulgarities…
Aia aia e el rama de tamarindo– those words probably mean nothing to you, but as I look at them, I am singing this tune. This is the song for the dancers of son de negro. A group of them practiced around the corner from my house, and my host sister Adriana danced with them in a couple of parades, so I heard this song a lot this year.
SPARKLES. Sparkles on shirts, yes, but especially the sparkles on the dresses of the queens. So many sparkles. I was surrounded by queens this year, as both my host mom and host sister were queens (the former for her school, the latter representing people with disabilities).
Cumbia. Last year when I saw this dance time and time again, I thought it was pretty boring. It’s a pretty slow-moving dance. But now I live in a place where there are cumbia-only competitions twice a year, and I better understand the storytelling. Basically in cumbia, the woman is a siren and the man is undeniably attracted to her and tries to woo her while she flirts with him…but also sometimes straight-up rejects him. Probably not the best message for young men and women (just keep pushing until she gives in?), but makes for a lovely dance, especially when booze bottles and big candle bundles are involved.
Always knowing there will be something fun to do on the weekends.
What won’t I miss miss?
Endless excuses to party at all times (I swear I’m a fun person! See pictures above!).
Corn starch and foam everywhere.