Bolivia - Macy

My experience of Carnaval in Bolivia

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Carnaval is a celebration to honor Mother Earth…named………Pacha Mama here in South America. But of course kids might not want to do that, so instead they get a day to play. That day, in La Paz, our family decided to go to where the celebrations were happening. I did not know that we were going to get covered in foam, which they call “espumilla”. But when we did get covered in the foam……… I was really happy. People sell hundreds and hundreds of cans of the foam in the street. The foam was kind of like shaving cream and soap. Luckily it was not sticky, which I was pretty happy about. But the only thing that I did not like was that the kids went right for your face. It kind of stung when it got in your eyes. I found it quite interesting. Of course, us tourists were the main targets. I actually loved the Carnaval surprisingly. For one of the days our family went to a parade.

The parade was not what I was expecting, because it was a lot of traditional dancing. I loved it. It also was really fun to watch. People were in the middle of the street dancing and having lots of fun. Some people who were not dancing just walked right through the people who were dancing. It was quite frustrating to watch, but maybe that is just what their culture does. That does not change what I think. The parade was quite interesting. I noticed that not everyone that was dancing was happy, I am not sure why. Maybe they were tired and just did not want to dance, just an idea. The weather was pretty cold. So I was freezing. But I still watched the parade.

Even though this parade day was not foamy, soapy, espumilla day or whatever you want to call it, the dancers still got sprayed with the stuff. We would see them coming down and dancing with the foamy stuff on them. Our family got sprayed too. When we were about to leave, these teenagers had a bottle of the foamy stuff and started shaking it. Jasper and I knew that they were going to spray us. I think they said “Vamos á espumar los niños”; which means, “let’s spray the kids”, so they came running over and sprayed with all their power! I was happy and even colder and soaked. But that was okay because we knew that we were going to get sprayed at some point.

The owners of the place that we were staying at celebrated Carnaval like most other people do in La Paz. Their names were Eneida and Bernardo. They asked us to join them in their celebrations, and had already bought extra things for us. So we decided to join them. It was a lot of being patient because there was a lot of waiting for the different parts of the celebration to happen and be finished. A big part of the celebration included something called “La Mesa”, which means “The Table”.   La Mesa is slowly put together and eventually put on the fire, all to feed Pacha Mama. We lit a baby llama on fire, but don’t worry it was already dead and was not going to be born. There were lots of sweets, nuts, coca leaves, llama fat and other things in La Mesa. Then we lit the fire with some very powerful alcohol. If you were the person to light the fire you had to drink a few sips of the alcohol. Bernardo was the person who had to light the fire and had to drink the alcohol. It looked like it was too strong and hurt him. I got to drink sweet wine; I actually liked it a lot. I was nervous when we had to offer to Pacha Mama by going around the fire and pouring some wine onto the ground, because there were a lot of other people watching.

Un poquito de carnaval en Español

Carnaval no es un Carnaval para jugar. Carnaval es una celebración en América del Sur, es para representar pacha mama. Estuvimos en La Paz para esta celebración. Me gusta esa celebración mucho. Es un poquito divertido. Pacha mama es la madre de la tierra pero ellos dicen pacha mama.

En su cultura ellos creen que pacha mama tiene hambre y también ellos creen que necesitan alimentarla. Y la sacerdotisa que vino dijo que mis abuelos son hambres y necesitan comida.

2 thoughts on “My experience of Carnaval in Bolivia

  1. Thanks for a wonderful explanation of Carnaval. You’re having such amazing experiences. Love reading about it!


  2. Macy what an interesting blog, the Carnival has been part of the Boliviam culture for centuries I am sure. It is nice to hear about it first hand from
    A Young Canadian who happens to be our granddaughter. Getting sprayed with foam is an interesting part of their celebration. The celebration that you were invited to by the family must have been very educational & lots of food & special drinks for the adults. Our culture in Canada is so new, good you have been exposed to the very old cultures in the three South American countries you have visited. Look forward to your next blog.


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