Thursday, March 16, 2006

Carnaval de Oruro: Urban warfare in Neverland

There are three traditions for carnival: party, drink, and urban warfare. When I say urban warfare, I am referring to a game of aim-shoot-duck, with weapons of choice being water balloons, water guns, and foam spritzers. This is the part of carnival which many people do not enjoy, as they participate passively in the game and end up wet, sticky, maybe cold and definitely disgruntled. I myself was quite irked when, within minutes of arriving in Oruro, I started being sprayed with foam and wet with water guns. Then I bought a poncho, a foam dispenser, and water balloons, and the fun began (evil grin). I spent the better part of two days wet and sticky, because of all the people I was with, somehow I was the unanimously chosen target – and the poncho, although a very practical tool to stay relatively safe from direct contact with foam and water, acted a little bit like a greenhouse (can you say hot?). My brother and I became quite a good team, one always ready to avenge the other, leading to often confused individuals who happily targeted one of us and then didn’t quite understand where the delayed but precise and merciless response came from! Muahaha. Big fly-from-outer-space sunglasses were one of my best investments, as they protected my eyes from excess contact with foam or violent contact with water balloons… so thank you Gabriela and Maria for vetoing the unfashionable, smaller sunglasses. In case you were wondering, the people participating in this urban warfare voluntarily were of all ages, shapes and sizes, and in my opinion, it is one example of why people around here are so happy – they never fully grow up!

My brother in his protective gear.


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