One of the best times to find yourself in Pasto, Colombia, is during Carnavales, a.k.a., the end of December into January. While throughout December there are celebrations leading up to the holidays, the main event goes on between January 2nd – 6th.
In 2009 the Carnaval de Negros y Blancos was declared a “UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” The celebration is in honor of the history and colonization of the Andean region. Each day celebrates a different aspect of tradition, from indigenous dances honoring mother earth to one of the first families to migrate to Pasto.
As the days go on, the parades get grander. January 5th, el día de los Negros (or, Black’s day), represents the liberation of African slaves in this region. Along with the parade comes the black cosmetic that you will unavoidably be painted in if you find yourself outside. Everyone ends up coated in black to symbolize that we are all the same regardless of color or class. Just make sure not to wear nice clothes!
Same goes for the 6th, White’s day (el día de los Blancos). On this day, you can’t leave the house without being covered in white talc. This is also the day of the Grand Parade. The floats for this parade are worked on for months leading up to the event. They are massive, intricate and representative of the stunning artisanal talent in the region. Every year a winning float is chosen. Some winners even go on to tour the world.
Regardless of the day, you’re not safe. Carioca, a spray foam, is sold by the liter. Both children and adults are spraying the foam constantly and at everyone. And don’t even think about complaining because you’ll just hear, “pa’que salió?” or, “what did you come outside for?” So, you’re better off joining in on the fun.
This was my first official carnaval since I was too young before I left Colombia, and I usually visited in the summer. This was also Kevin’s first time so we both got the full experience!
Que viva Pasto, carajo!