01.02.2008 - 06.02.2008 17 °C
Bolivian transport seems to turn into chaos around carnival time. After arriving in the border town of Villazon, it was impossible to get on to the train as planned, so we had to settle for a bone shaker bus ride. Andrew is thinking of studying the average life expectancy of Bolivian bus passengers compared to Bolivians who use other forms of transport! Part of the problem appears to be that the driver fails to slow down at appropriate times, choosing instead to us the horn as a break. During our trip (we sat on the middle back seats of the bus - with families at our feet in the aisle) we witnessed a collapsed bridge, so the bus had to drive down a banking and through the river. This was done with a bus load of passengers - including us. We also saw a bus that was hanging precariously on to the road, half tipped over. The passengers managed to hoist it back on to the road with ropes. We later heard, that because buses fill up so quickly, and because it is often their only means of transport available, that aisle tickets are sold (for the same price as seats) and when these are all gone, Bolivians have been known to travel in the luggage hold!! We finally arrived in Oruro at midnight, and felt truly baptised into the world of Bolivian buses.
We loved throwing water bombs and spraying foam at unsuspecting kids in Oruro, for 3 days. This is not illegal, infact it is actively encouraged during carnival! Lisa even went to spray a child, but (out of character) upon realising it was crying, turned away. However, the mother insisted that the child was sprayed - so she obliged. It was more fun having water fights with the children because the adults took it too seriously. We met "competetive dad" with whom we had a full on water fight. Later, a friend who we were with, Neil, was unharmed, minding his own business, when "competitive dad" ambushed him with the rest of his family!
Neil comes off worse
When Lisa wasn't making children cry, we sat in the seats and watched the colourful procession go by. On the Saturday, the Diablada ceremony took place. This pays tribute to the patroness of miners and Pachamama (earth mother). The Diablada was originally performed by the indigenous miners, but now a number of guilds take part in the procession, from all over Bolivia. This festival is known for it's imaginative costumes, and we certainly saw some sights. Not least, the drunken band players, who stagger on through the procession, playing out of tune. This happens as early as eleven in the morning.
Carnival takes it's toll!
Less fun was the hotel that we stayed in, although we couldn't complain - we only paid $50 each, for the 3 nights of carnival. Lisa said she was going to have t-shirts made up "we survived Hotel America", Neil said "if Carlsberg made hotels...."
Fancy a shower?