Concierto por Doce Horas
It was Sunday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, but that means nothing here. The main event was Carnavales and every Latin American band that you’ve ever heard of, and many you probably haven’t, was playing in concert. There was the exclusive (Read: elitist and expensive) Ruben Blades concert Friday, Daddy Yankee on Saturday night, and on Sunday there were a ton of groups playing with the headliner being Juan Luis Guerra.
I couldn’t afford Ruben Blades, I thought Daddy Yankee might be dangerous, even though I would love to see him in concert, and that the Juan Luis Guerra concert would be the best value give the sheer number of bands playing. Also, my favorite Colombian band, Dragón y Caballero, was at this show. There were 11 bands in total.
Kären and I getting the tickets is kind of a funny story itself. We had gone to SAO, our grocery store with the magic cashiers, to purchase the tickets, which were on sale if you had una tarjeta de plata - a grocery store card. We paid for our tickets on February 10th and they gave us a receipt. They said the tickets would be ready the day before the concert. I went on Sunday morning to pick them up and there was one employee who had the keys to the safe that the tickets were in. It took a while to locate the right guy. Then the keys didn’t work. They ended up having to call a locksmith to get the tickets. We went home to wait for a delivery person brought them to us at our apartment several hours later. This seems to be the way things work here, and all you can do is laugh.
Around 2:30 Kären, Yoyi, and I took a taxi to the Metropolitano, the stadium where the futbol team Junior plays. We were going to go with our friend Tania, but there is something here called pick y placa – depending on what number your license plate ends in, you can’t drive that day. It seems like a good idea to me to reduce emissions and traffic, but unfortunately for us it was her day not to drive.
Approaching the Metroploitano, which I have heard called beautiful, I realized it looks a lot like a dead spider. Click on the link above and look at it. Can you see its dead spider legs?
When we arrived there was one of many vallenato bands playing. After that came some salsa band. People were dancing even where there is really no space to dance. Not just concert style dancing by yourself, no, no, I mean salsa dancing. It was rather impressive.
Dragón y Caballero played and were as fantastic as ever. Yoyi and I sang and danced a lot to them. After another salsa band, after dark there was a long pause between performers. Some emcees were trying to soothe the crowd, but it was no use. People were yelling, “¡Callate!” – shut up! “¡Hijo de puta!” – son of a bitch, and oddly, “¡Puro hueso!” – only bones. Yoyi explained to Kären and me that it means that it means boring, like if a person is too skinny and they don’t have any curves it’s boring. This put a smile on my face thinking of the cultural differences. Here calling someone gordito/a is not offensive at all. I don’t think it would go over very well calling a woman (or man) ‘fatty’ in the US.
Upon our first trip to the bathroom and waiting in line for half an hour we realized this was not something we’d want to be doing again if possible. You had to pay 50 cents for a small amount of toilet paper, to go into 1 of 4 bathrooms, two of which had broken doors, none had seats or flushed, and all had tons of water on the floor. The woman taking our money must have laughed all the way to the bank. We stopped buying beer and water as to not have to deal with the 20 – 30 minute disgusting bathroom situation. Another reason I didn’t want to go was because after Kären’s camera being stolen at la Batalla de Flores, I had taken to keeping my wallet safely tucked in my underwear. I didn’t want to chance it falling on the soaking wet floor or, even worse, the toilet.
Juan Luis Guerra did come on around 10 pm and put on an amazing show. I was surprised that I knew as many of his songs as I did (I thank Multnomah County Library’s CD collection for that). At the end of his incredible performance there were fireworks that were equivalent or superior in quality to any 4th of July celebration.
That seemed like it should be the end, but it wasn’t. Another salsa band Ritchie Ray started playing afterwards. There were some vallenato bands, but we were waiting for Peter Manjarrez, of “estoy enamorado tragado de ti” fame. I used to hear this song everyday when I first got here. We ended up leaving around 12:30 because we were exhausted. I was surprised at that so many people were still there, although many were sleeping. The concert went on for over twelve hours.
This is the last piece I will write about Carnavales. It is really a non-stop fiesta for 5 days to a week. I thoroughly enjoyed many different parts of it and at the end I almost felt like I needed a vacation afterwards. Barranquilla put on quite a show…and then it was time to go back to work.
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