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New Year

COLOMBIA | Monday, 2 January 2006 | Views [899]

Well 2006 is upon us and the last Christmas lights are blinking tiredly and the street decorations wind-whipped and sun-bleached from their passage through a scorching December. There have been many, many parties over the holiday season starting with "The Festival of the Immaculate Virgin". This proved something of a misnomer, the ladies were dancing and prancing around in a manner that would make a blind man blush. Christmas was a more subdued affair than I had expected in a predominantly catholic country. That's true of Sundays too which seem to have become the same secular affairs as their European counterparts. All the shops were open and many people were working as normal on Christmas day. It was explained to me that this was due to the level of poverty here, people need to work and as such it is expected of them. It certainly is true that if you are lucky enough to have a job here then you work all the days and hours that your employer expects of you. Refusal would cost you your job. A job is hard to come by here, even for the skilled workforce and, with no social security, the slope between economic survival and abject poverty is a slippery one indeed.
January brings the same hangover here as is does anywhere else. The Colombians probably don't have the same jaw-dropping credit card repayments to face as the gorged consumers of the first world, but Christmas makes everyone overreach themselves somewhat. It was very encouraring however to see that the supermarkets make up special priced food hampers for the poor which you can buy and deliver to the Cathedral for distribution or, as we did, take directly to the poorer barrios and give directly.
Christmas being over the people can find some solace in the fact that Easter is on the way. With the Easter period comes the legendary carnaval of Barranquilla, second only to the carnaval in Rio and allegedly gaining ground. The various associations are already practicing. This is something I don't want to miss. Whether I make it this year or not remains to be seen.

Tags: Party time

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