He’s going on 65 but looks 10 years younger, the inventor of San Antero’s Donkey Festival, Cristobal Correa, teacher in the village and room renter in nearby tourist hub Coveñas. The donkey has to be revaluated, he stresses. “We have denigrated it too much, kicking it and calling it stupid and stubborn”, he says. I tell him these days I’ve hardly seen donkeys in the village. Mostly motorcycles and quite a lot. “Those motorcycles do well on paved roads”, he smiles, “but on tiny paths up hill they’re useless. You do need a donkey!
As a culturally interested teacher mr. Correa thought his village needed a festival: “To compete with Coveñas and Tolú nearby and Sincelejo’s corralejas. I thought of a theme: the lobster festival, the sea festival, and then suddenly it occurred to me to do the Donkey Festival because of the reason I told you, and I also think the donkey is part of our environment. It carries our crops, it carries our wood. And then everyone came to visit us and know San Antero. Even from abroad they arrived.”
He laughs about the Catholic Church’s objections against the Donkey Festival in the Holy Week. “In earlier days we were supposed to pray all week. Life has changed: people pray and right after that they have a beer and sin again!”
Although the festival seems to be even a discussion issue for the candidates to be mayor of San Antero, Cristobal Correa stresses that it’s not a political event. “It’s a cultural event, in which also writers are invited to discuss and read from their work. There is bullerengue music and a parade of dancing groups. If it’s on politics, we make fun of it. I expect that there will appear donkeys dressed up as the Nule cousins.”