Colombian Roadtrip – Day 19 – Carnaval of Negros y Blancos

January 4, 2014

We woke up at 8:15 am and by 9:15 am, I was at the local clinic with Siena. She still wasn’t feeling well and with the aid of the internet, I suspected that she had a throat infection. $25 and 20 minutes later, Siena was diagnosed with STREP, given a prescription for antibiotics and we were sent on our way. (As an aside, the pharmacist had also diagnosed STREP, but I don’t like giving antibiotics without being 100% sure that they are needed so I took her to the clinic anyway.

Today’s carnival activities involved the Castaneda family procession, celebrating the founding family of Pasto, the Castanedas. The Carnaval of Blacks and Whites, by the way, has been celebrated since the nineteenth century. It was a few days when black slaves were given time off to celebrate and could paint themselves white to celebrate their freedom. The white people in turn, painted themselves black, to celebrate the festivities. The tradition stuck and this is why to this day, people paint themselves, and each other, black, throw flour on each other and spray each other with white foam.

My husband was still not up for facing the festivities and neither was Siena or our 3 year old, Saige, so Jade and I braved the crowds again to see the Castaneda family procession as well as various other groups who came up with different themes for the carnival. The crowd was wild, taking pleasure in spraying each other with foam. It was great fun until Jade had enough. There was a group of fifteen year old boys behind us and their way of flirting with Jade (my 11 year old!) was to keep spraying her with foam. They were unrelenting. At first Jade was a good sport but as the foam stung her eyes, she was no longer having fun. I asked the boys to stop but they didn’t until my baby burst into tears.

The crowd intervened on our behalf. A group of women moved Jade in front of them so the boys’ spraying wouldn’t reach her and shouted at the boys to stop. “Can’t you see they are foreigners?” the women yelled. “Then they shouldn’t be out here,’” somebody yelled back. And that was it. They left Jade alone and I was grateful.

After lunch, my husband was going stir-crazy so we left the two older girls in the hotel room and took our youngest for a walk. She seemed a little overwhelmed by all the craziness around us and we quickly brought her back to the hotel room. She wanted to stay there with her sisters so my husband and I decided to venture out by ourselves for a half an hour. What a half an hour it was! We walked through the main plaza and got completely attacked by foam.  I felt like foam was coming at me from every direction. It was in my eyes, my ears, my nose. It wasn’t much fun, to be honest. Maybe I am too old for this. I could see it being fun in my twenties and after drinking a lot of alcohol, but at this point of my life, sober, it was getting kind of annoying. Nonetheless, we have two more days so I might as well get into it and enjoy it.

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