The Bolivian NCF

My last weekend in Bolivia certainly did not disappoint.  On Saturday, I went to Copacabana with my family which was awesome because one of the only things I wanted to do on this trip was go to Lake Titicaca.  I spent all of Sunday working on my paper, and then Monday we left again…this time for Quime.  My host sister was super excited about going and me tagging along, but honestly I had my reservations.  I’ve gotten comfortable around her immediate family in La Paz, but her entire extended family was in Quime for this festival.  I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this little excursion.

If you’ve ever been to the Neshoba County Fair, imagine that, but with Bolivians and fancy costumes, and alpacas instead of farm animals.  Many families, like the one I am staying with, own houses in Quime specifically for the festivals that occur and rarely stay there any other time.  Like The Fair, there were carnival games and trampolines for the children, food vendors everywhere, and stages set up in the two main plazas.  I learned the caporales dance, tried api for the first time, and I took a (very touristy) picture with some alpacas.  My favorite part was the costumes.  Almost every major town in Bolivia was represented in these parades, and they all seemed to compete with each other on who could have the most over-the-top, sparkly costumes.  I was with people from La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Quime, Oruro, etc., and they all cheered endlessly for their hometowns.  I feel like this (and I’m sure other) festivals are a way to bring people together, but also to try to prove who has the best dancers/costumes/band.  Additionally, I was surprised by how many of the people I met spoke English.  My name in Quime was simply “Mississippi,” and everyone who could immediately began speaking to me in English until my host sister told them I wanted to make my Spanish better.  This festival really made me feel like I participated in something truly Bolivian and I loved it.  I will be running on fumes by the time I get to the States tomorrow, but it was definitely worth it.

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