What can we say about Carnaval? For weeks before the actual holiday itself, we were the subject of surprise water bomb attacks from buses and balconies, which we later learnt was one of the main features of Carnaval here in Sucre – to turn the entire city into a water warzone!
By this time, the weather had mercifully been blazing for weeks, and an occasional splash of cold water was a shock but helped us cool off a bit in the heat. This got more and more frequent until it culminated in Carnaval Weekend – a frenzy of endless parades, dancing, brass bands, banners and ‘borrachera’ – drunkenness to you and me.
It seems every school, business, and private organisation in Sucre has its own marching band, and day and night you could hear several walking through the streets, beating drums and being soaked by people throwing water from balconies and in the streets. One day James’ Spanish class was even interrupted as his teacher encouraged her students to fill buckets of water in the kitchen and throw them off the balcony to the waiting crowds below.
On the official carnival day, we donned fabulous wigs and masks provided by Brig and Dan, sampled some local leche de tigre alcohol and made our way to the Parque Bolivar for the parade. Wow. Four gringos with silly glasses and wigs? Bring on the bombs…and they did. Walking target number one was what we turned into, and the ambushes were frankly dizzying. After we staked a spot by the side of the parade, the bombs, foam, and silly string was less constant, down to every minute or so (!) and we did our best to enjoy the parade.
There were yet more marching bands, dancing troupes and even a couple of floats with enormous models, but the crowd seemed far more interested in bombing the other spectators, and the performers themselves were utterly soaked. After a while, we decided that rather than enjoying the entertainment, we WERE the entertainment, and decided to make a run for it. Big mistake. How we managed to get split up I don’t know, but I don’t exaggerate when I say I got bombed maybe 50 times, and poor Brig even got a whole bucket over her head. The Lonely Planet guide does say that nearby Oruro can get “frankly tedious” with the attacks on gringos, and we felt that Sucre was kind of the same. Having had enough fun for one day, we hightailed it into a taxi and spent the evening enjoying a lovely meal in La Recoleta, overlooking the firecrackers over the city. Next year, Rio, perhaps!