With all the ancestry kits out there, people can easily find out where they come from. This means the country where their ancestors were born before they came to America. For many, this means going back a few generations. It’s fun to trace the countries and to find where people met their spouses. For me, I know where I come from, but I didn’t know much about the country until I went back to visit it as an adult. I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. I came to the United States when I was two with my grandparents. We came to this great country as political refugees. It wasn’t long before we became American citizens.
When I began to research the city and country I was born in, I came across some interesting news. My great-grandfather, Diego A. DeCastro, was the first governor of Barranquilla. There is a statue of him still standing in the city square. I was fortunate enough to visit Barranquilla and the statue. Barranquilla is located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia in the northern province of Atlantico. It had the first airport in South America and has the world’s oldest surviving airline, Avianca. Barranquilla was established in 1629 and had the potential to build a port on the Rio Magdalena. However, the navigation of this river was difficult and the port was not built. It wasn’t until Puerto Colombia was built on the coastline that the city began to prosper. By the 20th century, Barranquilla was a major port, shipping many goods (e.g. coffee) around the world.
Yet, the city is most famous for its carnival, which is the second biggest even after Rio. The Barranquilla Carnival is a four-day celebration at the beginning of spring. It is full of food, music, costumes, parties, and parades. There are two main parades, one to open the carnival and one to end it. The last parade mourns the death of Joselito, a mythical character. This event showcases the European and African cultures that formed Barranquilla. In 2002, the carnival became a National Cultural Heritage event.
I was raised in Boston (MA) and I am proud of my Latino heritage. I am more fortunate than most because I know exactly where I came from and how my ancestors lived. No matter your heritage, it is always fun and interesting to learn about your relatives and why they chose a particular country to raise their families. I am sure I will go back to Barranquilla to learn more about my family history as well as other Barranquilla traditions.