A carnival for the arts? Yes please!

BARRANQUILLA - My Arubanness has always been questioned because of my lack of enthusiasm for carnival. Every time that happens I remember one of Paulo Coelho's tweets, where he affirms his strong Brazilian identity despite not particularly liking carnival. Naturally I retweeted as I relate with his sentiment. An invite to participate in a carnival for the arts however, left me completely intrigued.

It was just another afternoon as I was sitting behind my laptop doing some editing work for Aruba’s national theater ‘Cas di Cultura’, when the notification popped up on the top right corner of my screen. It’s not everyday one receives an e-mail from the Dutch Embassy in Colombia so I decided to make an exception to my rule and check my e-mail despite being in the writing-flow-no messages-zone. After the warm greetings and beautiful reminiscing of my participation in the 29th annual Feria Internacional del libro de Bogotá last year, the embassy introduced me to the Carnaval Internacional de las Artes organized by Fundación La Cueva.

Built in 1954, they continued to explain, La Cueva is a historic bar frequented by artists, writers and intellectuals such as Gabriel García Márquez, Alejandro Obregon and the rest of the Grupo de Barranquilla. Later, La Cueva further developed into a restaurant, gallery and continues to be a meeting place where literary, journalistic and artistic works are created. In 2002, Fundación La Cueva was founded to realize the many projects inspired by the discussions held in La Cueva, including the Carnaval Internacional de las Artes. Now in it’s 11th edition, the carnaval will once more bring together 60 intellectuals, actors, artists, writers and journalists from Colombia and the rest of the world, to share, exchange and showcase their music, theater and writings. I was honored to learn that the organizers of the carnaval have reached out to the embassy to express their interest in my work and invite me to Barranquilla this February. After going through the website links attached to the e-mail, I broke another rule of the writing-flow-no messages-zone and replied immediately, accepting this tremendous opportunity.

Before I returned to my editing work, I spent a couple of minutes thinking about my connection with Colombia the past few months: FILBO in Bogotá, a spontaneous trip to reign in the new year in Medellin and now a Carnaval for the arts in Barranquilla. I never know what the ultimate picture looks like but this fragment seems to be urging me to elevate. Colombia is an enlightened country and I am excited to return. Follow my journey on my social media pages and keep a look out for my reflection blogpost on my experience in Barranquilla. Also, find out more about my participation in this awesome article published in Barranquilla’s el Heraldo newspaper Rosabelle Illes: la sonoridad poetic del Caribe and check out the shout out video below, created by the gifted photographer turning into cinematographer Jonathan Petit.

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