Friday was the start of one of the most important celebrations held in Medellin, La Feria de las Flores, The Flower Festival, which lasts for about two weeks and includes four major events plus many smaller ones. The four principal events are, Orquídeas. Pájaros y Flores, (Orchids, Birds and Flowers), La Cabalgata, (The Horse Parade), El Desfile de Autos Clasicos y Antiguos, (The Parade of Classic and Antique Cars), and El Desfile de Silleteros, (The Flower Parade).
Yesterday, Sunday the 4th of August, was the Cabalgata, or horse parade, which is basically a procession of horses along a predetermined route within the city. What makes it different to any other horse parade that I have seen is the number of horses and riders that take part, the number being in the thousands. The event starts around 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. and people start to line the route from mid- morning, some just to watch, but many with enough alcohol for the whole weekend, some even hire canopies and bring the barbecue and kitchen sink with them, arriving early to stake their place. When I first came here I used to enjoy watching the Cabalgata, but now I find it rather tedious after a while. One can only watch a certain amount of horses passing by before boredom sets in.
This is where the alcohol and food come into their own, If you just go to watch, it’s fine for a while, and if it’s your first time, maybe you’re while is longer than my while, however, if you make the whole event into a party you can last all afternoon and long into the night....and many people do. In the past I remember some riders at the end being as drunk, if not more so than some of the spectators, and the horses taking the riders home rather than vice versa, however, the organisers have clamped down a lot in recent years and now the route is shorter and I believe alcohol is either limited or banned for the riders at least - the horses can drink as much as they like.
Medellin is situated in the Aburra valley, though due to the number of women who have breast implants here, it is sometimes referred to as Silicone Valley, and this is easily noticeable during the Cabalgata, as women bounce their way along the route. I’m amazed some of them don’t knock themselves out, with a right breast to the chin.
Yesterday, I left home early as I went trekking in the mountains about one hour from the city, I arrived back home around 7:00 p.m. and as we drove through the city the party appeared to be in full swing, and looked like heading long into the night. My wife said there were 6,500 horses in the Cabalgata this year, that’s a huge amount of manure!! This morning at 6:00 a.m. when I left to go to a class the smell from the previous day’s activity was still evident.
This is a tradition that should never be allowed to disappear, unlike bullfighting which should have been banned many years ago, but which sadly continues, though each year appears to be less popular. The torture and suffering of any animal (humans included) should never be considered as a form of entertainment, try it on yourself first and see if you enjoy it, and then please understand deep within yourself, that it is spiritually incorrect to treat any living being in that way.
Quite a few years ago, I wrote two articles which delve more deeply into the Medellin Flower Festival, A Week of Tropical Entertainment, and Flowers for the Streets.
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