After the madness of Semana Santa, which fell in April in 2011, May is a slow month in Colombia, nationwide. Children are back at school, families start to count their pesos in anticipation of national holidays in June and international tourists are left to their own devices.
And even Colombia, a country long recognized for its capacity to throw an unforgettable party, plays host to precious few festivals during May. We have sieved through the country’s calendar of events to bring some of the more unusual and perhaps exotic offerings to the fore. Just imagine, in another month you could be at the Miss Petroleum Beauty Pageant in Barrancabermeja or at a potato contest in Tunja and adjudicating the most handsome donkey in San Antero.
So here listed are three truly Colombian xperiences for May, well spread out geographically between the southern jungles, the Caribbean coast and the central southern Savannahs.
Fiestas Aniversarias in Putumayo
Taking place on May 3 in the city of Puerto Asis, this may be your opportunity to visit the one of the least known departments in all of Colombia. Putumayo is known principally as a jungle state bordering Ecuador, and cocaine production. But a little known fact is that Puerto Asis was founded on May 3 1912 by Capuchin missionaries. Hence the Fiestas Aniversarias on this date. What to expect: Sporting events such as a makeshift regatta on the Putumayo River, cultural activities and plenty of drinking and loud music.
Festival of the Mango – Luruaco, Atlántico
Discovered by the Spanish 1553 the area now known as Luruaco was named after a Cacique in the area called Uruaco. Fertile lowlands are bordered by swampy marshlands prone to flooding and here the mango crop abounds. Obviously Barranquilla is the capital of the department of Atlántico and has the most famous carnival in northern South America. And this clearly overshadows any and all preparations for a fruit-infused celebration. If you are looking for an escape from the norm, a trip to Luruaco may be the exact tonic.
Festival Internacional de la Cachama
Held annually in mid-May, the Cachama Festival in the Llanos as the lowland Savannahs south of Bogota are known amounts to little more than a drunken fishing competition. The seat is in the town of Puerto Gaitán, some 190km east of the departmental capital of Villavicencio. There is a wealth of emphasis on the indigenous cultures in the region during the Festival but the key event is that of who snares the weightiest Cachama fish.