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The Concurso Nacional de Belleza in Cartagena: A Colombian Institution

The madness has already begun but if you rush you can make it to the unstoppable party in Cartagena that is the Concurso Nacional de Belleza or the Miss Colombia Pageant taking place right now.

Cartagena grinds to a halt and the walled city lives and breathes this event. Running for a period of about 20 days, this year from late October, the coronation takes place to coincide with the long weekend of the Independence of Cartagena in November.

This year just as every year since 1934 – and spanning the decades in fashion sense - there’ll be a new queen picked from one of the 32 departments and the event will be televised live on November 12 before the final event, a press conference culminating in the end of this Colombian institution on the 13th.

I had the opportunity to attend back in 2008 and I have been able to locate some of my scribbling from that period. I have to quickly jump in and admit that this is not my first pageant. As a rookie reporter doing time with Central America Weekly in Costa Rica back in 2000 I got to cover their finals there.

Recuerdos de 2008

Taliana Vargas, Colombia’s runner up to the Venezuelan candidate in the Miss Universe competition 2008 stepped up onto the stage. Her sequins gave as good as they got from the flash bulbs of the waiting press blinding us in this auditorium just outside the walls of the old city in Cartagena.

The 4 runners up for Miss Colombia were being announced and Taliana was preparing to hand over the crown to this year’s beauty.

I attended catwalk shows, shoe events, press briefings, events that took place in boats, the Miss Punctuality event (which started late!), Traje Artesenal, the swimsuit competition and then at long last, after what seemed an interminable 4 days, the Grand Final.

I must mention that my father in law – a gentleman who has never been known to call me – had called to give me his predictions as well. Apparently he had never missed a televised pageant. Cundinamarca, Santander, Sucre, Bogota and Cauca were his picks. He was envious and particularly excited that I was there present.

And then it was over,  so much glitz, shebang and partying. I think my overall reflections are ones of wonder in the extent and reach of this event, that people from every walk of life here in Colombia are tuned in and opine, and that so much time and effort is put in.

Who will win this year? Tune in on the 12th and find out.

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