Saturday, January 1, 2011

It all shuts down and they all get drunk- commentary on the Bolivian Independence day

Well maybe not ALL of them.
       What does independence day mean to you? Thoughts of fighting for freedom, patria, fireworks and BBQ normally come to mind. Here in Bolivia it’s a time of parades, in which pretty much anyone that goes to any school has to dress up and walk up and down the street seemingly several times.
one of many parades
Street vendors pop up out of nowhere and sell everything from salteñas (more about that next time) to imitation hamburgers. Imitation? Not just the fact that they’re imitating our food, but I’m also not entirely sure what the meat is made of.
After a night of partying the streets are empty, only trash and dogs foraging for scraps remain. Slowly people begin coming out of their houses. There are andean street sweeper ladies dressed in traditionally shaped outfits but they’re the color of orange penitentiary jumpsuits. I think I saw a picture of Lindsey Lohan in one before I left. Anyways these little ladies use enormously long (over 15 ft I’d say) palm branches to sweep the streets of debris in preparation for more parades and more drunkenness.
All of this goes on for at least three days. Putting to shame the Americans with their measly fireworks and backyard barbecues. So if you want a spectacle of patriotic proportions come to Bolivia August 6, or really anytime around then since it lasts so long.
But as a local friend pointed out to me the other day, it isn’t all doom and gloom here, nor is it all drunks and parades. ☺

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