Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bicentennial Eve

So how lucky am I - just happening to be in Cochabamba for the city's 200 year anniversary! Yesterday I was woken up at 7:30AM by this fantastic military band marching past my window.
Following that my work colleagues and I climbed up to the Cristo (more on this in a later post), after which point we were given the rest of the day off. At about 7:30PM my family and I left to watch the Bicentennial Eve Parade! Parades here can last as long as six hours, sometimes more. There is another city in Bolivia that has an annual festival - their opening day parade often lasts for 20+ hours! We only stayed for two hours, but here are some things I saw:

1. All of the students from the night colleges and classes march in the parade. They dress up - the girls often in black mini skirts and high heels... really high heels. And then they march, sometimes for six hours. Holy cow!

2. Cochabamba has scouting programs too, just like the Girl or Boy Scouts in the U.S.

3. Marching bands galore! While it is Cochabamba's Bicentenario, many high school bands come from out of town to participate in the parades. Two specific differences I noticed: All of the drummers carry their drums old-fashioned style, with one strap and balancing on their hips. Many of the drums needed new drum heads. 

And second, most of the women participating served in the capacity of either flag girl or baton twirler. For their uniforms, most frequently I saw sleeveless or strapless dresses with mini skirts, accompanied with thigh-high heeled boots. Again, holy cow. This picture is of a more modest uniform.

One of my favorite moments of the parade was watching the sock-and-sandal sporting nuns marching by, but I was unfortunately unable to capture their picture. Yet another favorite was a high school band marching by with the brass and bells playing the same song, but it two completely different keys! 

Last but not least, a bit of a cultural lesson. Here, traditional campesinos, or country-folk, are referred to as cholitos (cholitas for women). Here is a typical cholita outfit - tall hat, lacy shirt, and poofy skirt. I see this outfit all the time, as these are typically the women selling fruit or candy on the streets or in the market. 

It was quite the night, and more to come tomorrow for the actual Bicentenario!!!

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