Saturday, March 27, 2010

La Batalla de Flores

La Batalla de Flores

It was time for Barranquilla to show off. It was Carnavales – time to bring out the best of the best. The day after the Carnaval at school and the Tambor was La Batalla de Flores. I knew that the translation meant the battle of flowers, but also had learn that this would be a grand parade.

Even Barranquilla's nature was showing off

Karen, Dave, and I had made plans with our friend Tania to go to La Batalla de Flores. I had never seen more people on the streets of Barranquilla. Lots of people were dressed up in Carnaval costumes. We got there around 11:30 and it was already packed. It was hot so I bought myself a costeño hat – un sombrero revueltiao.

Starting young - we saw this future Carnaval Queen on our way there

general craziness

It was ridiculously crowded and loud. It was getting nervous with the amount of people and the chaos. People were squirting foam into other people's eyes. This unfortunately happened to Karen and she got her camera stolen.

We got to a place where we could all see, although not well, not long before the parade began. Dave and I had bought tickets to have a reserved seat with a view. The thing was, we couldn’t make it through the crowd to get to our seats, and even if we had gotten there, the police weren't letting people through. It was not the most organized event, and I was seriously scared from the pushing and sheer number of people. I literally was sandwiched between people much taller than me. When I finally could move I decided to head back to where Tania and our other friends were. Unlike most of the chaos at this event, the port-a-potties were the cleanest most organized part of the whole parade. They even gave you a little wet-nap after using them.

After a while Tania used her palanca with the police and Dave and I were able to get in to a VIP section with our tickets and had a decent view and a bit of space. We ended up joining a larger group of North American teachers from another school. We had met some of them at parties before. They do loads of things together and live in a cool area of the city. One guy had rum in a 2-liter bottle that was being shared.

Finally being able to see, and not being worried about my camera being stolen in this VIP area, I was finally able to take a few (read: A LOT of) pictures. I was lacking explanations from a local during the parade, though I had asked about some of the symbolism before. Some of the captions are fact and some are my interpretations. The marimondas and the three races are true though.

mud man

gods and goddesses?

Don Omar of reggatón fame

Millions of marimondas. These are the symbol of caranaval in Barranquilla. They represent exactly what they look like - a penis.

marimonda phallic symbol

Bicycle with flags of the world

Carnaval is not short on beautiful women who can dance

The 3 races of Caribbean Colombia represented stereotypically – afro for Africans, gold spear - Indigenous people, and then the other clown-like costumed folks somehow represent the Europeans.

African dance turned mapalé


Yes, this is a man. Everyone would cheer for the 'gays' which somehow seems to translate here as drag queen.

More marimondas and queens


Our colleague and Cumbia queen

a balancing act



traditional costeño vallenato y cumbia y sombreos voltiao

costume detail

famous fútbol player

Barranquilla Carnaval

Political humor

local humor

an appearance by Michael

This guy was then eaten by vultures but the picture was a blur




coyongos - another symbol of carnaval

Leaving carnaval, Dave and I had a long and winding search for our friends. There were enormous stereos blaring everywhere, people dancing on patios and in the streets, and Colombian trinkets for sale.

I will never be able to convey the volume. I have traveled to 30 countries in my life, and Colombia the loudest country I have been to by a very far margin. During carnaval I knew it would turn its normal ear-splitting volume up to 11. It's all part of living in a different culture. My Spanish is getting better, but that doesn't mean I understand all of the subtlties (as well as the not so subtle parts) of the culture.

¡Quien lo vive es quien lo goza!

1 comment:

  1. hi, miss elizbeth i am alberto your estudent here in altamira i saw this blog is superwow, the carnivals photos is what i like the most but i want you to correct,it isn't sombrero voltiao it is sombrero ueltiao