Friday, March 17, 2006

Ch’alla Tuesday

The tradition of the ch’alla is one where you bless something. If you buy a new car, for example, it should be blessed. Friday 24th of February was the official day to bless your office. This means the afternoon was dedicated to waterfights with coworkers (generally using mini water guns, called chisguetes to keep damage down to a minimal), the burning of special sweets for good luck, and the distribution of various other elements (the spirally paper thingies – serpentines?, and little round candy) to complete the blessing. Tuesday February 28th, the last day off for Carnival, is traditionally dedicated to blessing your home – and, I suppose because of its second-home nature for many of its volunteers – the La Paz branch of the Red Cross. The whole filial was decorated with serpentines and balloons, and then while Alvaro started up the grill (we decided to have a chorizada – a sausage BBQ), petards were set off for more good luck. Instead of desert, an all-out water fight broke out (the important people left early, knowing what was next on the unspoken agenda). It started with water guns and chisguetes, evolved to water balloons, and then within barely ten minutes of the beginning of the madness, people started using buckets and other large recipients to drench others. Having gotten to the filial early and having played with Don Andres’ sons, I was nearly dry when a bucket was dumped on my head… It was sunny, the streets were empty, and water abounded. Oh what fun we had! The twins, Alvaro, Andres, Clau, Monica, Janet, Oscar, Pepe, Janeth, Cesar and I – we spent approximately three hours running after each other, plotting and planning, teaming up, avenging each other, putting select individuals under the shower. It was glorious.

Andres who just got hit in the back (I think), holding a yellow waterballoon. The serpentines are wound three times around his neck and are meant to bring good luck for the year. Obviously good luck does not include being safe from a water fight, hehe. After I took this picture, the camera went away to a safe, dry place...


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