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Carnaval Oruro

BOLIVIA | Monday, 27 February 2006 | Views [11553] | Comments [2]

So, after missing all the other Carnaval celebrations in Ecuador and Peru, by what seemed like a a few days.. we decided to make the serious effort to hightail it through Peru to make it to Bolivia for the Carnaval celebrations in Oruro (http://www.coralbolivia.com/frame/carnaval.htm   more about the history than I can give you). The whole affair lasts about 2 weeks, but the grand parade was yesterday, Saturday, and we were there. Oruro is 3 hours south of La Paz, in the middle of the altiplano (flat highland plains) in what appears to be the middle of nowwhere. From Copacabana, we find a tour company to go with for the day. Our voucher for $35 includes, a ride to and from, ´t-shirt (actually really nice ones), a guide, bottle of spray snow foam, poncho (protection from the foam and water balloons), bag of coca leaves (to ward off hunger and sleep), bag of pink and white balls (to eat or throw?),  a seat in the stands along the parade route, 1 beer, breakfast and lunch.. not bad.

3am we are waiting outisde our hostal for the bus... waiting until 4am when our frantic guide finds us, and we walk with him rapidly to the bus, picking up a Korean family at their hostal along the way. There were quite a number of people still roaming the streets and in the bars at that hour, impressive. After rounding up the 35 people on our bus, at about 4:30 we are on the road. Half sleeping, half listening to the introducions of the day, and eating crackers that are getting passed around, it´s a rough ride. About 5:30 we get a flat tire, after riding on it for a few km, we stop, get the tools out, and change it rapidly (in a manner that only makes us realize, this happens more than you´d think). About 7am we stop for breakfast. The restaurant is full with the group from the other bus we are travelling with. We all wait patiently, and grab tables as they leave. Breakfast was a hearty steak and egg combo, greasy onions, 2 rolls and choice of hot beverage. My first steak and egg sandwhich, it was quite satisfying.

9am, we arrive, get off the bus and proceed as a group (after a few minutes this feat already falls apart) to the stands. We jump over a fence, under a fence and eventually take our seats (we grab 2 in the front row, until they kick us back to the upper row). We are cramped, ponchos on, spray cans ready, cameras in hand, eyes eagerly focused on the parade, and watching for possible foam attacks.

For the next few hours we continue like this, watching troupe after troupe of dancer and big bands pass us by. Each group strikingly similiar and unique in their costumes and dance. It was too crowded and loud to hear our guide explain the significance which each dance and costume had. This was a drag, because the history of these stories is all so rich.. I was amazed to think that so many living stories actually existed in the culture.. but they do, and they were all on vibrant, proud display.

Giving our group the souvenir spray foam was a big mistake. Our side of the stands (well 2 gringos instigated it all), started a challenge with the folks on the stands across the parade. Each break in the march would be time for them to rush the other side with water guns, foam and balloons.. this continued for quite a few hours and was out of control at times. Looking around, this wasnt happening in the other sections.. but overall it was in good fun, and no one seemed to mind. For 1 boliviano (15cents) a bag of water balloons was yours, making it hard to resist participating.

Lunch, 12:30, typical, soup, rice, meat, banana

After lunch walked around a bit, poncho tightly cinched around my chin, and back to the stands for a few more hours of parade. The parade continued until late into the night, but we met at 6:30 to return back to the bus.

7:30 we are on the road (because you know there is always someone that gets lost, and  shows up late)

We are cruising along, until about 10:30 we hear what sounds like glass getting tossed through the engine.. the bus continues on and pulls over to the side of the road. There is a brief apology that there is a technical difficulty of sorts, and we can either wait 2 hours for another bus, or get out and hail a cab or combi (minibus). We are about 2o km from la paz.. this dense lights are visisble on the horizon. We are in the hood.. on the other side of the highway, there is a canopy set up with live music, kids dancing and being rowdy. Nonetheless, it´s not the place we want to hang out... everyone clears out within 10 minutes of fluster and fury, boaring buses and cabs. We are the last to leave with Oscar, our guide. We take a cab with him a few miles down the road, and them board a combi for 1 bolivano to go into the center of town.

11:30 we are safely in bed, at last, sleep, hot shower...ahhh

Tags: Culture



Yes, I was wondering if I could use the picture of the Ecuadorian celebration (the one with the bright gold costumes) for my 7th grade computer project on Ecuador. If you can email me back by this Wednesday I would appriciate it.

  Tayler May 13, 2008 4:53 AM



  jessi Jan 10, 2010 8:11 AM

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