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Wow. This IS so exciting. I am now an Official Blogger writing for www.colombia.travel about my favourite country, Colombia. Double-wow!
Where to start? It’s a tough one. How do you choose between the colonial charm of Cartagena, the spiritual magic of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the urban chic of Bogotá or the inspirational architecture of Medellin? All of them will no doubt get a mention over the next twelve months but there’s only one place to kick off my Official Blog – Barranquilla, home to the biggest party in Colombia.
Accompanied by my colleagues at This Is Cartagena, Official Blogger decided to get the party started early this year and slipped into the Carnival groove with La Guacherna.
A nocturnal adrenalin rush that snakes its way through the Barranquilla, eight days before Carnival kicks off in earnest. This year the main event takes place on February 18 so La Guacherna was scheduled for February 11. Just an hour and a half from Official Blogger’s hometown of Cartagena, Barranquilla sits
12 km from the Caribbean ocean close to the mouth of the River Magdalena. Its people are probably the friendliest you will ever meet.
Famed for their eternal parrandas (parties) and for ‘sucking chickens’, the colloquial expression for taking the rise out of each other, oh and those brutally honest hips that the city’s most famous export, Shakira, is always going on about, Barranquilla considers itself the party capital of Colombia. It’s a good shout to be fair.
We arrived late and headed straight to the city’s most celebrated salsa joint, La Troja, a two-story palace built for a couple of hundred or so twinkle-toed salsa ninjas.
I took one look at the throbbing crowds heaving to the pulsating beats of the sound systems weaving their way along Carrera 44 and I thought to myself. ‘Blogger’s here. Blogger’s away!’
I plugged myself into the electric atmosphere, took a couple of swigs of Ron Viejo de Caldas for luck and threw myself headfirst into the fray. It’s the only way.
The traditional Barranquilla dance groups, the Mono Cucos, the Marimondas and the Garabatos vied with the Samba schools and sound systems for the ecstatic crowd’s approval.
Feeding off the frenzied atmosphere, the euphoric dancers moved like their lives depended on it. It was a happy place, a million miles from the moody streets of Notting Hill.
After the parade finished in the early hours of Saturday morning we were sucked inexorably towards Calle 84, where liquor stores and kick-ass car stereos turn every street corner into impromptu open-air nightclubs.
The Reggaeton sounds of J Alvarez going toe-to-toe with the Vallenato tsunami of Silvestre Dangond for top dog status. We found our spot on the corner of 84 with Cra 46. Rum flowed from the Licorera JK and the back-end of a Toyota Land Cruiser provided the sounds well into the early hours.A faux Big Ben on the adjacent Hotel Windsor kept time so we had one less thing to worry about. We had already fallen in love with Barranquilla when we realised that this was just a warm-up.
And that’s the most beautiful thing about La Guacherna it’s just an appetiser. In just seven days you know you will be doing it all over again, for 96 party-packed hours of fun and festivities.
That’ll do Blogger!