El Carnaval de Barranquilla, Salsa Caleña y Medellín
Leaving Buenos Aires and Argentina, my first stop in Colombia, Latin America's oldest democracy, will be the famous four day long Carnaval de Barranquilla, worlds second largest carnival and only surpassed by Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This carnival is Colombia's most important folkloric celebration and was proclaimed a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003. El Carnaval de Barranquilla and Patagonia were the two first things I fitted into this "7 weeks in Latin America" project.
This carnival really makes Barranquilla come alive during these four days and room rates at hotels rises dramatically and pre-payments on rooms are necessary, as most hotels expect to get fully booked. This year El Carnaval de Barranquilla is held between 9 - 13 February, with something going on basically every hour non-stop. Trying to get out of the city before the rest of the bunch, I'll be leaving in the afternoon of February 13 for Cali, missing out on the Grand Finale. The video below is from last year's carnival.
Cali, or actually Santiago de Cali, is as well-known for its Salsa Caleña, as Buenos Aires is for its Tango. So no wonder I'll be taking private dance lessons here for a week then, hopefully two per day and continuing with locals in the nights at the different salsa venues through out the city! Its going to be interesting to see how much the Caleña style differs from the Cubana style that is more common. Cali is also called "the Salsa Capital of the World", and has the most salsa schools and salsa teams in the world.
My last destination in Colombia will be the city of Medellín in the Paisa region of the country. Medellin is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" due to its perfect spring-like weather year round. The combination of warm days and cool nights helps to make this, the second largest of Colombia's cities, a top destination in Colombia for Colombians, international tourists and business people. Long gone are the days of Pablo Escobar's narcotics empire that smuggled all that cocaine into the USA during the 1980's...