Every year the little village of Juan de Acosta – an hour west of the Caribbean town of Barranquilla – chooses its beauty queen and not just any beauty queen, but the Millo Queen. Millo is a kind of maize which came to Colombia in the time of the slave trade. it appears that it’s origin is India. Or that’s at least what the 12 girls this year had to learn for the contest. And also that millo is the basis for the famous millo flute, which is used in the Caribbean cumbia and puya rhythm.
Don’t think beauty is the only thing that counts. It is 15 percent of the criteria. The girl should be able to express herself, should have some knowledge of at least the millo, should be able to dance and should dress elegantly. Oh and I almost forgot a very Caribbean part: she should be a cheerful person.
They were all very lovely, the twelve girls, from 15 to 20 years old. The youngest of fifteen, was still a child, although she already had curves. “I’m am sure I am going to win” she said confidently in her interview with the jury, in which for example her knowledge of millo was tested. The jury was touched by this frank innocence, but didn’t pay much attention to it. Until it appeared that in the parade in the afternoon she was the only beauty queen without a chariot. Very happily she was dancing beautifully on the street among her cheering supporters. This gained her a lot of respect from the jury, which gave her a special remark, to encourage her for future contests. The girl, with the elegant name of Yourladies, comes from the village of Bocatocino, which is poor and where there is no electricity. Obviously they don’t have money to provide their queen with a chariot.
The most exotic thing of the contest was the jury member Peter Slagter, the Dutch honorary consul in Barranquilla.”I have hundred percent Dutch blood, but have a Caribbean soul”, mr. Slagter loves to say. And it is true. This man, who was born in Barranquilla, is completely blond, has blue eyes and is tall, doesn’t speak a word of Dutch and is even more cheerful than the beauty queens he had to judge.
But definitely mr. Slagter was the most serious member of the jury and at the end made the decision. (At the end more than half of the jury had already disappeared.) Miss Puerto Colombia was the one who everybody thought was going to win – she had already won 10 different contests – and she looked very self assured. But there was the also lovely miss Malambo who conquered the honorary consul’s heart with her excellent knowledge of the millo.
So you see, it is not only beauty in this beauty contest in the Caribbean village of Juan de Acosta. But I think if miss Puerto Colombia’s eyes could have killed, the honorable honorary consul would not be alive anymore.