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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Policia and the Virgin Patron Saint

BOLIVIA | Saturday, 1 December 2007 | Views [2490]

We are so lucky to be in Copacabana today for one of their biggest festivals for the "Virgin" Patron Saint.  It happens to coincide with the big Police parade, in honor of all policia and those in the academia studying to be policia.  Marching band music fills the air; the streets have been backed with locals laying colorful patters of role petals, layering the street for the Virgin's procession.  It's a beautiful, colorful sight.  People have come from neighboring hills and pueblos to watch the Virgin be paraded through town.  Old ladies in their bowler hats shower the policia with rose petals.  I don't think I've ever seen so many armed police in one place.  There's a section of the parade dedicated to the women policia which is really impressive to see here.  Hanging in the streets are banners stretched between buildings, banners made of traditional woven cloth with the most bizarre things attached - vegetables, forks and knives, Barbie dolls, stuffed animals, and other odd things.  Every local woman I ask about the significance of the banners responds in her local language - a huge disconnect... as I speak Spanish, the words fly even faster out of the womens' mouths on in their local language, and they keep on going, as if I understand. I smile politely and try communicating with charades, but really wish I could understand the language, and the significance of all the funky decor hanging over the streets.  Priests with big tall crosses lead the parade, and behind them, are women carrying the Virgin on a wooden float.  There are alters set up at every street intersection, and a special blessing takes place by the priests before the Virgin is able to pass through.  The police brigade follows the Virgin, and behind the important ranking policia are all the marching band members.  Showers of rose petals continues as the Virgin reaches the sea.  The priests hoist her onto the top deck of a boat, with the priests and high ranking policia accompanying her on the boat.  Several other security boats are loaded up with lower ranking policia, and the boats continue the procession across the water.  It was quite a day of celebration which would continue into the night with music and dancing.  We ducked out onto our bus to La Paz while the Virgin was still at sea.

Our bus ride turns into not only a bus ride, but a boat ride for us and our bus as well.  Just an hour into our 4.5 hour ride, we stop at a river to make the crossing, which of course none of us on the bus is aware of.  We're asked to get off the bus, show our passports and buy a boat ticket.  I ask some guy standing next to me that speaks English if he knew about this extra passage... and he said, yes, we're at the Peru border - not quite sure what direction and bus he was hoping to get on, certainly not this one.  Next thing we see is our bus backing onto an ill-constructed wooden floating platform with a motor.  Our bus is now half way across the river and we're herded into a wooden dingy, all 26 of us, with the sides of the dingy barely clearing the water.  We putter across the river slowly, actually making the crossing before our bus does.  Our bus makes it, and we board again, winding through curvy roads, and finally dropping into La Paz.

Tags: Culture

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