Imagine New Year's Eve in Times Square. The St. Patrick's day parade (the drunk part). The Brazilian day parade (and any Caribbean pride parade as well). Now Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The Fourth of July. And the Native American festival that takes place at Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn. Okay, now, mix them together (if you can imagine something of such an intense, insane size.) Make sure you have plenty of waterguns and cans of foam. Add some beating drums. Some more feathers. And the Bolivian flag. What have you created? Carnaval in Cochabamba.
Yesterday, I went to the Corso de Corsos, which is an 8 hour long parade that snakes through the narrow streets of the city. There are dancers from all parts of the country--caporales from La Paz, morenadas from Oruro, even traditional Incan dancers who wear long dresses in neon colors and dance with stuffed llamas on their heads. I kid you not. Never in my life have I felt so terrified, so thrilled, so excited, and so alive. People pushing you at all angles. People screaming in Spanish, Quechua. Little black-haired boys shooting you with water guns. Not-so-little black-haired boys shooting you with foam. It's war. It's love. It's the biggest party I've never and always wanted to go to.
You hear about Carnaval in Rio and the running of the bulls in Spain. My suggestion? Carnaval in Cochabamba. To say that this country is the understatement of the century, is the understatement of the century. One taste of silpancho, one sip of chicha, one slow cumbia, and you'll never want to leave.