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La Gran Parada de Carnaval

La Gran Parada de Carnaval
Barranquilla, Colombia

Barranquilla, Colombia

Growing up in Louisiana, I was all too familiar with Mardi Gras and its parades. However, getting the chance to experience Carnaval in Colombia was a whole new ballgame!

We woke up early, ate a quick breakfast downstairs, then were picked up in front of the hotel by MarSol transportation to drive 2 hours to Barranquilla, a city to the north (the birthplace of Sofia Vergara!) and the home of Colombia’s own Carnaval celebration.

The ride to Barranquilla was really easy though I had taken a Dramamine as a precautionary measure! We were on nice highway the entire time with minimal twists and turns, and Matthew and I were the last passengers on the van so we got to sit up front next to the driver – a very nice perk!

Once we arrived in Barranquilla, we walked around a bit, not really knowing where to go, then called an Uber to take us to the parade route. This was the day of the Gran Parada, a parade filled with cumbia music and dancing. Since we hadn’t bought tickets ahead of time, we walked along until we found someone selling them and wound up sitting in Palco 10 in a well-shaded collection of metal bleachers with food and drinks for sale. I think we might’ve been the only Americans in there, but it sure was fun to watch as the other spectators arrived, many in costumes and festive hats. A group of musicians settled into our palco, too, and started playing cumbia music. The palco directly across the street from ours had a loud sound system going with music and an announcer. He kept egging on our palco to cheer and clap – it was a ball!

The parade was scheduled to start at 1pm (we had arrived at the palco around 11:30), but it didn’t reach us until about 1:45. From then on, it was nonstop music, dancing, and festivities! It was incredibly hot outside, but we were shaded and not too terribly warm. We ate some lunch, got some cold bottles of water, and enjoyed the parade for the next 3 hours or so before heading out to look for souvenirs. We didn’t find any, which wound up being just fine, so we found the Juan Valdez Cafe, got a cold drink, then made our way back to MarSol for the ride back to Cartagena.

We again got to sit up front, but our driver was pretty crazy, passing every single car he came upon, even crossing the double yellow line on many occasions! Matthew asked him to drop us at our hotel instead of taking us all the way into Cartagena, and he thankfully obliged. We were relieved to get back safely (!) and couldn’t wait to shower and clean up from a dusty day at Carnaval!

Dinner that night wound up being outside at our hotel – we were just too tired to venture out!


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