Hello, and happy first day of Spring! 🙂 Woohoo!
Today I’m bringing you the very last recap of my recent trip to Bolivia. In case you missed them, here are the rest of my recaps:
- Thoughts on Bolivia
- Santa Cruz & Cochabamba
- Carnaval in Cochabamba
- Salar de Uyuni <– my favorite part of the trip!!
Today’s recap focuses on my last full day in Bolivia, when Fabio and I watched the parade to celebrate Carnaval (in Bolivia, they call the parade the “corso”). I already told you about some of the more religious traditions associated with Carnaval, so today’s post really just focuses on just the corso, which took place about 4 days after the ceremonies.
I also shared a few photos with you from the corso in Santa Cruz, but today you’ll see why I liked the one in Cochabamba so much better!
Ready? Here we go!
The morning started off like any other day in Cochabamba- warm and beautiful. Upon waking up, I did my usual take-my-kindle-up-t0-the-roof-and-sunbathe-until-Fabio-wakes-up routine. It was glorious. I wish I could start every day like that.
Once Fabio got up, it was time to get ready for the corso! We had plans to spend the entire day watching the parade with Fabio’s cousins and their friends, and I was really excited to see what it was all about.
As soon as we stepped out of the house, we saw a dancer heading over to the parade. Obviously we stopped to take a picture 😉
When we arrived at the corso we met up with a bunch of Fabio’s cousin’s friends, and then headed over to the stands which were essentially huge bleachers crafted just for the event. We wound up
sitting standing with the younger/rowdier crowd, which was a lot of fun!! Everyone was really excited for the parade so there was a lot of cheering, singing, dancing, etc. It was a blast!
Most of the dances in the parade looked pretty similar (to me) but apparently each one was a different type of traditional Bolivian dance that all the locals recognized and knew. I just liked the different costumes, lol!
Each group of dancers belonged to what they call “dance fraternities” which sound like they’re pretty similar to the sororities and fraternities we have here in the US.
To get in a fraternity you have to try out with a dance, complete an in-person interview with one of the leaders, get hazed you a bit, pay the dues, and then you belong for life. People join the fraternities from all over the world (apparently there are a lot of dancers from Sweeden!) and there are even branches of the fraternities in the US (the one near me in Virginia has about 300 dancers; that’s almost as many dancers as they have in the main chapter in Bolivia! Woah!) Think I should join?? 😉
Fabio’s cousin Ligia (who actually lives in Westchester, New York, and just happened to be visiting during the same time we were) is a member of the dance fraternity in the picture below. She didn’t dance this year because she couldn’t make it down for all the practices, but she has danced for many years in the past. So cool!
The dance fraternities also include men, which was nice to see. Here in the US there is such a bad stigma for men dancers that totally wasn’t present in Bolivia. I think everyone looked up to the dancers (women and men) and thought they were cool, which was a nice to see. The men were really good too!
Each dance fraternity was also accompanied by a band which played music for them to dance to. Some of the bands were pretty boring, but some of them came up with their own choreographed dances! They were awesome and were definitely crowd favorites.
In addition to the dance fraternities I mentioned above, there were a couple of groups that danced in more traditional costumes typical of what the Bolivian natives would wear. These groups had less intense dances, but were still really cool to watch. Check out this guy’s shoes!
This picture unfortunately came out blurry, but I loved to see little kids get involved with the dances as well. What a munchkin!
The corso was so much fun, and before we knew it we had spent the entire day there. In between dance groups, the crowd would cheer at one another and have little contests that kept everyone occupied. People were also spraying shaving cream and throwing water balloons at one another, so you always had to be on the lookout for that. Luckily we were at the top of our bleachers so I managed to stay pretty dry. Phew!
Later that evening, Fabio’s cousin Ligia invited us to the after party of her dance fraternity!! It was at Hotel Cochabamba, which is super swanky hotel in the middle of the city. The cover was pretty expensive (about $12 for us, which wasn’t bad, but in Bolivianos that was A LOT!) so it was really a party for the higher class people in Bolivia. Compared to the poverty we saw on our way to Uyuni, it was really interesting to see how the other half live.
At the party there was a live band, dancers, and plenty to drink!
Almost everyone at the party was a member of the dance fraternity, so they were all obviously fantastic dancers. One of Ligia’s friends was even nice enough to show me some steps!
Look at me go! Haha.
It was a really fun evening and I loved getting to know all of the dancers who I had watched from afar earlier in the day.
I also thought it was really cool how one minute the band would be playing a random song and everyone would be dancing their own way, and then the band would play a different song (like one from the parade) and everyone would instantly start doing the same choreographed moves. Woah! I was way out of my element dancing-wise, haha.
Oh well, the company at our table was pretty fantastic 😉
All in all it was a really fun evening, and it’s one I will always remember!!
The next morning Fabio and I had a nice lunch with his entire family (seriously, our table was huge) and then we packed up our stuff and headed back to the US! I think the corso in Cochabamba along with the after party was a perfect way to end our amazing vacation 🙂
Question of the day: Are you good at dancing?