Thousands have paid their last tribute to Colombian salsa legend Joe Arroyo at the Barranquilla cathedral where his body has been on display since Tuesday.
“El Joe,” laid in a cooled coffin to protect his body from the Caribbean heat, has not been without the company of hundreds of fans since he was moved from the La Ascuncion hospital to the local cathedral.
Crowds of people have since gathered at the cathedral to catch a last glimpse of the salsa god, who died Tuesday morning at 7:45 after a sickbed of 30 days.
Rosa Carolina Gomez, reporter for television network NTN24, told Colombia Reports that the atmosphere in front of the cathedral was chaotic.
“It seemed more a carnival than a wake. ‘Oh oh Tania,’ the chorus of one of Joe’s most famous songs, was being played by a powerful sound equipment installed on the trunk of a car. Dozens danced, drank aguardiente, beer and rum, while others stood in line to go inside the Cathedral and say goodbye to ‘El Joe.’ The chapel was closed at approximately 11:15PM, but people kept partying in the streets, celebrating his life, showing pictures they had taken years ago with the artist, and telling strangers the story of how they met Arroyo, and how his music became part of their lives,” said Gomez.
Fans will be able to pay homage to their hero until 3PM Wednesday when his remains will be taken to a private place where his family and closest friends can say goodbye before he is returned to the grounds at the Eternal Gardens cemetery.
The death of Arroyo has caused a wave of reactions in both Colombia and abroad. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called the death of Arroyo a “loss for music and for Colombia,” while international media widely covered the death of “one of salsa’s greats.”
The organization of the Latin Grammys announced Tuesday that the singer will be posthumously be given a Lifetime Achievement Award.