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Published: January 6th 2015
A Colombian Christmas
I am sitting here nursing one of many hangovers and trying to think of where to start telling you about our Colombian Christmas. This is made harder as I will have to go all the way back to the end of November, which is when Christmas officially starts in Colombia. 30th November
The festivities begin at midnight on Nov 30th
where there is a huge celebration in Medellin to welcome in December with fireworks and parties all over the city. We had been partying all day as it was the daughter of our host family’s first communion which was lovely to be a part of. The church was packed as they do all of the communions in one go, there were over a hundred children all together. First communions are a big deal here and the dresses are amazing, like mini wedding dresses for nine year olds. Each child then has their own party and no expense is spared. Marianna had childrens entertainers and a dj who were amazing and got everyone up dancing. (To be fair that isn’t difficult in Colombia). I got to have another salsa lesson
but I still am nowhere near to mastering that art yet. Work xmas do
Our next fiesta was our work Christmas party. Medellin is famous for its chivas, which are painted buses fitted with sound-systems and lights and a pole to dance on. All twenty of us jumped on and straight away the guaro came out and we were going for it. I have to tell you it is not easy dancing on a moving bus but we gave it a good go. It was particularly hard for Steve as he was too tall for the bus so kept bumping his head.
Aguardiente (guaro for short) is a drink made in Medellin which tastes a bit like sambucca and is best drank as a shot, or as we were doing it, just pour the bottle down your throat. On a moving bus this is even more fun as it just gets poured all over you. Combine this with foam spray and it made for a messy night. Most fun I’ve ever had on a bus.
The next day was spent nursing hangovers at what was supposed to be a chilled out game
of cricket with a group of ex-pats. This turned into a house party at a friends apartment in the city, again with more Guaro, but this time with Oasis and Take That songs. Los Alumbrados
For one of the many public holidays in Colombia, the streets in El Carmen de Viboral are covered in candles to celebrate the day of the Immaculate Conception. There is a competition for the best street decorations and the creativity involved was impressive. My favourite was a street of flowers made out of recycled plastic bottles. The town was packed with mini chivas and horse and carts taking people around. The winning street had a full scale model of the town, complete with robotic farmers and cows. Christmas in a finca
For Christmas we were incredibly lucky to be invited to a finca with our Colombian family and their extended family, all thirty of them. This is a traditional thing to do in this area for Christmas so we packed all of our stuff and six of us into the car and drove down to Santa Fe de Antioquia. This area is only
a two hour drive from where we live but the climate is much much hotter.
We had opted to sleep in a tent as the house was pretty packed so we found a secluded spot where we would not be hit by falling fruit from one of the many mango trees, pitched up and jumped in the pool. The pool is where we spent most of our time as it was too hot to do anything else. It felt quite strange to be playing volleyball in the pool at 2am on Christmas Eve, stopping for shots of guaro between each set.
We also learned to play a game which is similar to pool or snooker but only played with three balls and no pockets. The idea is that you use one of the balls to hit the other two which is a lot harder than it sounds. The grandfather of the family is an absolute pro, I think it will take a lot more practice to get anywhere near his level. The game is called carombola. Warning to any vegetarians, you might not want to read the next section.
The big surprise
came one day when a moto-taxi (tuk-tuk) arrived with a live pig on the back. This was to be our dinner for the next few days. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t have the stomach to watch it being slaughtered so I went and hid while the owner of the finca carried out the task. I knew that if I did see it then I probably wouldn’t be able to eat it afterwards. The noise it made was enough for me.
The pig was then butchered for us which was interesting to watch but again I don’t have the capability to see that much blood without fainting. Every single part of the pig was used, nothing went to waste. For all of my squeamishness my favourite part was the morcilla (black pudding). Steve went to help out with the making of this and got some great photos. The lining of the intestine is filled with a mixture of the blood, rice, potatoes, coriander and other flavours and cooked up. We had it for breakfast with arepas which was delicious. New years
Again, Colombian hospitality meant that we were again
invited to a family finca, this time in Guatape. We stayed at Mi Casa Guatape which is the best hostel in Colombia and were well looked after for new years. It started off as a very civilised evening with our friend Sean cooking a big chilli and drinking red wine, but again the guaro came out (completely my doing this time) and by the time midnight came we were well and truly drunk. We headed down to the central plaza for midnight where general merriment ensued, complete with live music, spray foam, church bells and sparkly confetti.
Safe to say New years day was a write off for me but Steve was very happy to have a friend to watch the football and drink beer with. He was especially happy as Tottenham beat Chelsea 5-3. With the time difference it was an early game so he didn’t have time for the hangover to kick in. His offer of another shot of guaro for me at 2:30 in the afternoon was met with some words which are not suitable for this blog.
I was still feeling rough the next day when we caught the bus out to a waterfall
so I didn’t brave the cold water but Steve looked like he was having fun.
We are now spending the rest of our time off work preparing for Steves photography exhibiton which opens on the 15th
January so that is keeping us busy. Until next time x x
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