Colombia Pt 5: Did someone say Carnaval?

We were picked up from the hostel, people, bags and boxes of food (ok alcohol) en tow. Somehow we squeezed 14 people inside along with all our stuff for three days of cultural festivities (ok outrageous partying).

14 people, big bags, little bags and food boxes

We arrived at our Air b&b which was 40min outside of Barranquilla – where carnaval was held. Welcomed to cabin like housing with a bar area, two kitchens, a pool table, a swimming pool and a 2min stroll down to the abandoned beach.

On arrival we picked out our beds, bikinis on, rum and cokes mixed, and jumped into the pool. The music blared, the drinks flowed and a stunning sunset at the beach didn’t hurt. As the day had progressed more people showed up and we were soon 20 people having an epic time. We showered, got ready and piled into the two mini vans we’d organized to take us into Barranquilla. Standard traveller experiences of course one of the vans had to break down en route but we overcame the slight setback by piling into one minivan. Who said travellers weren’t problem solvers? I had a nasty case of ‘hangry’ when I got to Barranquilla – luckily one of the guys gave me a large chunk of his (kebab?) whatever it is was, and it could well have been some horror fast food, at the time it was the most amazing thing I’d ever eaten. We spent the night going from street dance party, to bar party, to more horror food places. Dripping with sweat having danced like mad people for an entire night, and full of chicken burger and chips, we finally headed back to the Air b&b at silly o clock. Yeah I know, a pretty tame night.

Night one – let’s do this

The next day we woke up to a delicious smell coming from the kitchen. One of our 20 strong crew likes to cook and had brought an entire Tupperware of spices with him. Legend. So we had two guys cooking breakfast burritos from our communal pot (£2 per person) – heroes. They were divine.

Always travel with chefs / people who like to cook
Best and cheapest breakfast

The pool party kicked off again but we were soon getting ready to go to the parade. Out came the crazy costumes, the glitter and face paints. We bussed it into Barranquilla with mixes of Rum and coke, vodka sodas, and shots of Aguadiente (a grim drink).

Dressed up and ready to go
Caranaval we are ready for you!

The parade was incredible! Our pal mike, whitest boy you’ve ever seen, got so involved and as the locals loved him so much we got pulled into the parade. Epic.

The worst dancing I’ve ever seen but the crowds loved him
Shortly before we got pulled into the parade

We split off into different cabs to party elsewhere and lost each other, that really blew, but in our mini groups we all decided to get on with some street dancing and beer drinking. Within the hour the 20 strong group had all found each other again..I’m not sure what was more exciting – the parade or the fact we all reunited in massive crowds. We had a few instances of lost puppies and mini search and rescue crews heading out into the fray to get them back. Rain had a fair few dance offs and in my opinion won them hands down. We all joined in with street parties, used the local pool hall with AC as bathroom breaks and ate some pretty average street stall pizza.

A group of four decided to head back to the Air b&b and an hour later five more of us decided we’d had enough. After the 40min cab ride back to the Air b&b we arrived to silence, assuming the others were asleep we tried to be quiet, until slowly we started to realise that no one was in their beds. Puzzled we checked the beach, the pool, bar area and came to the only conclusion possible. Their cab had been stopped and they’d all been arrested. Our friends were in jail and we were going to have to bail them out. So we started to talk about money and how we’d have to wait for Alex the only Spanish speaker of the group to get back, rest up and help us track them down and bail them out. Or would we have to contact their parents..? We eventually realised there was nothing we could do that night and were about to head to bed when we heard voices and there (to our delight but utter confusion), was the first group of people who had left the street party. Apparently the issue was something to do with the cab drivers not having the licenses to drive further out of Barranquilla as we needed and due to the high level of police out and about they weren’t willing to risk it. So our friends had piled into a cab and after driving for however long were turned around and headed back into Barranquilla. They were also dropped off in some rando town the second time they tried and I think it took them a total of 4 cabs and over 2 hours to make it back. But at least they weren’t in jail! The rest of our group had similar issues getting home which was a pain – couldn’t help but feel a bit overjoyed with the fact it only took us one cab to get back.




Everyone was a bit hungover and worse for wear the next morning. We had ladies come in to cook us all a BBQ and were starting the day with another pool party. I was definitely feeling worse for wear and went for a nap which was constantly interrupted and at one point I thought I’d just stay and enjoy the Air b&b, dip in the pool, eat BBQ food and smash my left over Rum and coke. Only Lauren came bouncing in saying a few people were going to leave early to catch the parade and her enthusiasm was infectious. Before I knew it I had my glitter shorts on and was chucking glitter and face paint all over myself, mixing a disgustingly strong Rum and coke into a water bottle. Five of us clambered onto the bus and sodded the BBQ while the others waited for BBQ food and we arranged to meet later. Five of us headed in and got ourselves tickets to see Shaggy and then found some amazing pizza – we’d unfortunately missed the parade as we’d arrived too late – gutted.
We caught up with the rest of our group outside the Shaggy concert as agreed and a few hours of the weirdest gig of my life ensued. We had some reggae-ton bands play, which was so frustrating because they built the songs up and then never dropped! So we were all groaning throughout a lot of it while trying to catch and dance with the silver foil strips they’d hung off a tree. Shaggy came on and we went wild. Rushed to the middle of the crowd, all the girls up on the guys shoulders at one stage or another, and started jamming to ‘it wasn’t me’.

Rocking orange sunglasses
Carnaval babes

After Shaggy some weird and godawful trombone band came on, hitting all sorts of bum notes as well fell about laughing. When the next reggae-ton band came on we decided we’d had enough and got cabs back to the Air b&b for a late night pool party. Our cab was hilarious – the driver had found some western channel and we were all jamming like mad in the cab. I don’t think a driver has ever been so happy to be rid of his clients as this guy was. Happily we all made it back around the same time and with no issues and the pool party began! We had so much alcohol left but not a massive amount of mixers so the drinks were strong. At 5.30am we went down to the beach for sunrise which was stunning, I had a swim but got cold and then called it a night at 7am.

Girly sunrise beach selfie
Sunrise beach gymnastics

We had amazing breakfast burritos again the next day, packed up, had to start splitting up and I went with a crew back to Santa Marta barely keeping my eyes open on the way.

No one was keen to leave
All too much for the boys

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