The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

Carnaval in Oruro

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This photo of a Carnaval dancer receiving assistance in putting on his outfit was taken by Marcelo Montecino. See his other in this series of photos from the 1994 Carnaval in Oruro at his Flickr page. The photo was used by permission from the photographer.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent in Bolivia, where a large majority of the population is Roman Catholic. The Carnaval season has officially ended and many in the Bolivian blogosphere recall these days with such fond nostalgia. Bolivians and foreigners alike participate fully either in Bolivia or away from home.

The last time Alexey took part in Carnaval in his hometown of Oruro was four years ago. Now living abroad in the Netherlands, he comments in his blog Alexey Writes, that for some reason he thought he would miss the festivities more than he has and that it might be because he knows that it is not so easy to travel back to Bolivia. He does, however, state that the Carnaval in Oruro is the “only one worth participating in, even if people from Oruro often feel like it is.” He recently returned from a short trip to Slovenia, during their carnival season.

Isabella Fuente also found herself far from the fun, as she describes in her blog Ergoth. Living in Madrid, she assembled her own Carnaval complete with streamers, but found that there was no festive atmosphere in Spain. So instead she went to the movies and watched the live footage from Oruro from her bedroom.

Oruro may be the most well-known part of Bolivia where Carnaval is celebrated, however, nearly every corner of the country celebrates in its own unique and distinct way. Rolando from Rocko Weblog runs down how Bolivians in Santa Cruz, Tarija and La Paz spend these days. He also describes the ritual of “martes de ch’alla”, which takes place on the Tuesday of the holiday where people thank “la Pachamama” (mother earth) for the days to come.

No celebration is complete without food and drink. Miguel Esquirol makes readers’ mouths water with a full description complete with picture of the traditional dish called “Puchero de Carnaval” in his blog El Forastero. This dish from Cochabamba is served specifically on the day “martes de ch’alla” featuring beef, lamb, potatoes, rice, chuño (dehydrated potatoes), and ají (spicy condiments).

Jim Shultz, who lives in Cochabamba, describes running into some neighbors celebrating with alcohol drink chicha, which is made from fermented corn, and learning the customs which accompany it. He does, however, know how to play the game in order to escape a certain fate.

Thankfully there is an escape clause. Before you finish you are supposed to dump some on the ground for La Pachamama, mother earth. It is a tradition that has saved my ass more than once when a Bolivian party turns it attention to the noble game, “Make that gringo drink!”

Finally, Nick Buxton writes his ode to Carnaval in his blog Open Veins.

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