Monthly Archives: February 2020

Carnaval de Barranquilla

¡El Carnaval de Barranquilla es la fiesta mas divertido en Colombia! (The Barranquilla Carnaval is the most fun party in Colombia!). It’s also one of the most important cultural events in the country – a tradition dating back hundreds of years. I just came back from the city after a week of participating in the Carnaval festivities and I’m excited to share the experience with you!

 

El Carnaval de Barranquilla comienza el sábado anterior al Miércoles de Ceniza (The Barranquilla Carnaval begins the Saturday before Ash Wednesday). While this is the official start, it actually begins well before that with pre-Carnaval events.

A parade during Carnaval de Barranquilla.

Los eventos del precarnaval comienzan oficialmente con la Lectura del Bando (The pre-carnival events officially begin with the reading of the Carnaval Proclamation). This takes place in the Plaza de la Paz, with el Alcalde (the mayor) handing over the keys to the city to la Reina del Carnaval (the Queen of Carnaval).

That’s right, there’s a queen (and a king as well) for Carnaval de Barranquilla! There’s a big event at the stadium for la Coronación de la Reina (the Coronation of the Queen). This tradition dates all the way back to 1918. The King is known as Rey Momo and he plays a big part in the celebrations.

Crowd for La Battela de Flores.

Things officially get rolling with La Batalla de Flores (The Battle of Flowers). Es el evento más importante y más esperado (It is the most important and most anticipated event). The streets are packed with people coming out to attend the parade. Street food vendors cook up tasty arepas and chuzos and the aguardiente is flowing. It’s a wild party to say the least!

That’s not the only parade, though. In fact, there are several! The next day is la Gran Parada de Tradición y Folclor (the Grand Parade of Tradition and Folklore). There aren’t big floats in this parade, but there are thousands of people marching, dancing, and singing in traditional costumes. It’s much easier to find space on the street to enjoy this parade and tickets for the palcos (stands) are easier to come by.

The folklore parade from above.

Hay muchos tipos de música en los desfiles, pero la cumbia es el principal ritmo del Carnaval (There are many types of music in the parades, but cumbia is the principal rhythym of Carnaval). There’s also la puya, el jalao, el garabato, la guaracha, la champeta – the list goes on and on. One of the most important instruments is la caña de millo – a small flute made of carrizo cane. It’s really impressive watching guys jam out on these things!

Enjoying the folklore parade.

On Monday, there’s la Gran Parada de Comparsas (the Great Parade of Fantasies) with a whole new batch of costumes, music, and choreographed performances. There’s also el Festival de Orquestas (the Orchestral Festival) going on today. It’s actually a competition spanning several different categories. Los ganadores en cada categoría reciben el codiciado Congo de Oro (The winners in each category receive the coveted Congo Gold).

Unfortunately I didn’t attend the Monday events. Three days of Carnaval revelry was enough for us, as we wanted to visit some other places on the coast during our short vacation. We headed to Santa Marta (where I’m writing this from) and are off to Playa Costeño for a few nights to finish the trip.

La ropa especial para Carnaval!

While the parades are great, one of the best things about the Carnaval here is just walking around and taking in the scene. Hay mucha ropa especial para Carnaval de Barranquilla (There are many special clothes for Barranquilla Carnival). It’s incredibly vibrant and colorful and the whole city seems to dress up!

To be honest, my favorite part of Carnaval was la marimonda. This important symbol of Barranquilla’s Carnaval is a very goofy mask with huge ears and a long nose. There’s a legend behind it that says a poor man once cobbled his meager resources together to make a costume to poke fun at the city’s upper class.

In my marimonda mask.

The marimonda is everywhere you look during Carnaval. People wear the masks and also wear the image on shirts and even special sequined fanny packs. Being a big fan of lucha libre and just dressing up in silly costumes in general, you know I had to buy myself a mask! It was pretty impossible to walk with it on, but I had lots of fun putting it on for photos.

A marimonda mobile!

The winner for the best marimonda-related thing I saw all weekend definitely goes to the guy in the marimonda-mobile. He had a special car totally decked out with colorful designs and a few marimonda hanging out of the windows. This is the kind of dedication that Barranquilleros show for their festive Carnaval!

Party in front of the liquor store.

While the parades take up the daytime, the fiesta continues long into the night. Hay grandes conciertos todas las noches en el estadio (There are big concerts every night in the stadium). This year they had international superstars like UB40, Ricky Martin, and local hero J Balvin, who comes from Medellín.

If you can’t afford a ticket for the big concerts, it’s no problem. Tons of people still come out to the stadium to listen from the street, and there are plenty of vendors selling cervezas frias and local snacks like empanadas. We danced outside during the J Balvin show with hundreds of others and had a blast!

During the main nights of Carnaval, they also have what’s called Baila la Calle (Dance the Street). As the name suggests, this is basically a big dance party in the streets of Barranquilla. Roads are closed off to vehicles and are taken over with revelers. People blast music out of their car speakers or home stereos and start an impromptu fiesta with a bunch of strangers.

Part of the folklore parade.

Este fue mi tercer Carnaval en América Latina (This was my third Carnaval in Latin America). We went to Mazatlan, Mexico a few years ago and also traveled to Brazil to celebrate Carnaval in a few different places there. Each one has been fun for different reasons.

It’s fascinating to me to experiences these traditional festivals in different cultures. To me, it’s incredibly uplifting to see so many people having such a good time. Old and young, rich and poor, everyone comes out to celebrate Carnaval! It was a joyous occasion participating in Carnaval de Barranquilla, and I’d definitely do it again.

¿Has celebrado el carnaval? ¿Dónde? ¿Te gustó?
Have you celebrated Carnaval? Where? Did you like it?

Leave a comment and let us know if you have ever experienced Carnaval! 

I wanted to practice my Spanish writing a bit more, so I wrote a generic commercial script. Thoughts?

I want some general critique on my grammar and syntax in the paragraph below. Does everything make sense? Am I using my adverbs and upside-down exclamation marks correctly? Is there anything else I could add, remove, or change to improve its readability?

Es la medianoche, y los companeros de dormitorio dicidieron a hacer una fiesta muy grande… y muy ruidosa. Sín embargo, ¡no se molesta porque usted usa Los Bloqueruidos! No son tapones ordinarios; Los Bloqueruidos son muy únicos porque utilizan tecnología de filtro avanzado para bloquear hasta cuarenta decibelios de ruido disruptivo. Se ponen fácilmente en los oidos, y se quedan al dentro por toda la noche. Y cuando se despierta, se puede sacarlos con mucha facilidad. También se puede usar para mejorar concentracion cuando usted estudia, o solo quiere relajar y calmar el mente. Hagas lo que seas con ellos, se ayudarán mucho. Los Bloqueruidos: Una poca de paz y tranquilidad cuando se necesita.

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Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – Probability with future and conditional

In this Spanish lesson we are going to practice expressing probability with future and conditional tenses in Spanish. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – Probability with future and conditional

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

Marta: Hola Phil ¿has visto a Paula?

Phil: No, pero me imagino que estará en la biblioteca. Tiene un examen de inglés mañana.

Marta: Ah vale. ¿Cómo lo sabes?

Phil: Porque ayer la vi y me dijo que la ayudara a practicar inglés. Quedamos en la cafetería a las cinco pero no vino.

Marta: ¿No fue? ¡Qué raro! Estaría todavía en clase. A Paula no se le suele olvidar nada.

Phil: La llamé por teléfono y no me contestó.

Marta: Estaría estudiando. Cuando estudia siempre apaga el móvil para concentrarse mejor.

Phil: Sí, puede ser.

Marta: O la habrían llamado sus padres para que fuera a casa. Su abuela está viviendo con ellos y está enferma. Así que Paula tiene que ayudar bastante en casa.

Phil: Ah, entiendo.

Marta: Bueno, voy a la biblioteca a ver si la veo. Si ves a Marcos ¿le puedes decir que estoy en la biblioteca?

Phil: Vale. Viene de su clase de guitarra ¿no?

Marta: Sí. Había quedado con él hace media hora. Pero llega tarde. Se habrá quedado hablando con su profesor. Le encanta hablar de música.

Phil: Sí, es verdad. Estará con su profesor.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

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Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – Spanish expressions of probability

In this Spanish lesson we are going to practice using Spanish expressions of probability. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – Spanish expressions of probability

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

Mike: ¡Hola Sara! ¿Vas a ir a la clase de francés mañana?

Sara: A lo mejor voy. Depende de a qué hora llegue mi marido del trabajo. Si viene tarde, me tendré que quedar cuidando a los niños.

Mike: Seguro que llega pronto ¿no? Su oficina está muy cerca de tu casa.

Sara: Sí, pero últimamente se está quedando hasta tarde para terminar un proyecto, así que tal vez no me dé tiempo de ir a la clase de francés.

Mike: Ah vale. Pues espero que puedas venir. Vamos a practicar conversaciones en un bar. Seguro que es una clase muy divertida.

Sara: Seguramente lo sea. Espero poder ir.

Mike: Después de la clase vamos a ir al bar de Pierre, mi amigo francés, para practicar con él.

Sara: Ah pues aunque no llegue a la clase quizá vaya al bar cuando llegue mi marido.

Mike: Sí claro, ven al bar a practicar. Yo seguramente pido algo fácil. Una cerveza o algo así.

Sara: Pues yo si voy posiblemente pida algo complicado. Igual pregunto qué cócteles tienen, para practicar más francés.

Mike: Es buena idea Sara. Yo soy un vago.

Sara: ¡Qué va! Lo que pasa es que te gusta demasiado la cerveza.

Mike: Sí, a lo mejor tienes razón.

Sara: Bueno, mañana nos vemos ¡En la clase de francés o en el bar de Pierre!

Mike: Sí, hasta mañana Sara.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

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