Colombia comes to the District of Columbia
Washington Travel Blog› entry 47 of 66 › view all entries
July in Washington, DC, in addition to the 4th of July celebration, means the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival is on! This year, Colombia was the featured country and Rhythm & Blues the featured musical tradition.
Susan and I traveled down to the National Mall of the second Saturday of the Festival, arriving at Smithsonian Metro around 11:45 a.m. Colombia's participation was themed as Colombia: The Nature of Culture. The varied regions of Colombia were on display through their traditional activities and their music: Andean Highlands, Coffee Region, Momposino Depression, Pacific Tropical Rainforest, Southeastern Plains, Amazonian Rainforest, and Cities.
The centerpice of the festival was the Tower of Paradise, part architectural statement, part social statement, part sculpture, designed by Colombian architect Simon Hosie. The 46-foot (14 m) tower of steel and bamboo was influenced by his time in the Barrio el Paraiso in Bogota and is meant to evoke the working class barrios of Latin America. Graffiti on the tower and on the concrete bases gives a taste of life in the city.
To see the exibits, we began at the Andean Highlands area. Here, a potter was at work at his wheel and women were demonstrating weaving wool clothing, baskets from sisal, and hats from palm leaves.
Time for lunch to get ahead of the crowd! Of course, Susan and I headed for the Colombian food tent. I had Pollo Sudado (slow-cooked chicken) and Susan the Beef Empanadas. Very good! We shared a table with another local couple, from Fairfax, and a visitor from the Philippines. After lunch, we went next door to the Colombia music tent where Don Abundio y sus Travesios, from Mompox, were performing. The fokloric group played music of the Momposino Depression region, on the Carribbean, and reflected a mix of Spanish and Carribbean rhythms. Many in the audience got up and danced along!
Returning to the program area, the colorfully dressed members of Circo Ciudad de Bogotá caught our attention.
But, something completely different, was the Yipero Jeep demonstration. After World War II, surplus Jeeps came to Colombia and began to replace pack burros as a means of transport in the Coffee Region highlands. The vehicles and their drivers (Yiperos) have become such an instiution that Jeep rallys are held at Carnival time. Drivers compete in trying to drive overloaded Jeeps on their rear wheels. Well, you have to look at the photos to see what I mean!