Before heading to the Bolivian salt flats for a mid-trip adventure, Fabio and I were able to spend a few glorious days with his family in Cochabamba, Bolivia. As I’ve mentioned, the weather in Cochabamba is similar to the weather in southern California- in the 70s with no humidity.
This was the view from our bedroom window (in Fabio’s aunt’s house). Uh yeah, I could get used to that.
One of the coolest things we got to do during our time there was celebrate Carnaval. I had always heard about the parades associated with Carnaval, but I had no idea there was more than that. Apparently there are many traditions associated with the holiday, and we were lucky enough to experience them first hand.
During Carnaval (aka fat Tuesday), Bolivians traditionally hold ceremonies to bless their property for the year ahead. While we were there, we visited all the businesses and properties that Fabio’s family owns and had little parties at each one to bless them for the coming year.
First up was a plastic factory that one of Fabio’s uncles owns. Fabio’s family actually owns multiple factories, and we were able to “bless” two of them. All the workers from the factory had the day off, and instead they all came in to enjoy the party. Everyone decorated the factory and its machinery with Carnaval decorations, and then enjoyed music, dancing, wine, and food together.
They also make a “sacrifice” by burning a bundle with fake money, herbs, confetti, and other little trinkets and valuables (you can buy these bundles from street vendors ahead of time). Once the bundle is burning, people take turns walking around it and sacrificing their wine or beer.
Basically it’s just a big party where everyone wishes for good luck during the year ahead.
It was so much fun to see all the factory workers enjoying themselves during this big party. The factory was in a more rural area, so it was nice to really get out and meet the local people.
You better believe Fabio and I got in on the celebration!
In addition to the factory, we also visited two empty lots that Fabio’s other uncle owns. He lives close to us (in Virginia), but plans to someday build beautiful houses on these lots. And who could blame him- wait until you see the views he’ll have!
On the way to the first lot we spotted this baby sheep, which I (obviously) loved. You know how I feel about sheep…
But check out property number two!
Here we are burning the sacrifice thing (sure do wish I knew what they called it…)
So much fun!
I could totally get used to this view, and I can’t wait for them to build the house so we can come visit 😉
Another tradition of Carnaval involves throwing water balloons and squirting people with water guns. At one point we used the roof of Fabio’s mom’s house to get some good aim.
While I enjoyed her beautiful rooftop view…
Fabio was busy preparing and throwing some water balloons. Haha!
We also had a really fun time going out with Fabio’s cousins in Bolivia. His one cousin Ligia was actually visiting from New York for Carnaval as well, and since she comes to Bolivia often she was able to show us around and introduce us to her friends. I won’t go into too many details about the places we went, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the pictures. It was all so much fun!!
Masquerade party for Carnaval (just like Mardi Gras!!)
We also did a bit more sightseeing and ate at some really cool restaurants, but I’m trying to keep these recaps brief (HA!) so I’m leaving those out. It was all really wonderful though!! Up next is what will probably be my favorite recap of them all- the Bolivian salt flats! Woohoo!
Question of the day: Do you participate in any interesting traditions?
P.S. There was of course and awesome parade associated with Carnaval in Cochabamba, but that was later in the week so I’ll discuss in a later post 😉