Morada K’asa & Correro, Bolivia
I was lucky that my time in Morada K’asa coincided with some of the village’s largest celebrations. I was there for the high school graduation (a big event in an area where many adults speak little Spanish and can’t spell their own names), the year-end festivities for all the local schools, and the Santa Barbara and San Ysidro religious festivals. These great events made for great people watching.
From the proud parents at graduation to the young children dancing, from the beaming students presenting their end-of-year projects to the teachers getting drunk and offering me vodka spiked with Fanta during those presentations, every new day seemed to feature a new celebration and a new cast of interesting people.
Shortly before the graduation ceremony, a girl and her father stood off to the side of the school’s gate. They were still on the main road that everyone used, but fortunately no one seemed to notice as she pulled her dress over her head , squatted, and peed in the road. She was holding her father’s hand so I figured that, while strange to me to have your daughter expose herself to the whole village and pee on the main road, it was generally accepted there. I shrugged my shoulders and went in to watch the ceremony. This was but a preview of things to come.
My friend, who volunteered a few times a week at the library where I volunteered, was valedictorian for the high school. She gave a speech at the ceremony, then learned that she had been accepted and been offered a full-ride scholarship at the federal university in Sucre. Most people in Morada K’asa work farming potatoes out of dry ground in the rocky plateau; going to university was a big deal for her, her family, and her friends.
A few days later came the Santa Barbara festivities. They were amazing to witness! First came the procession down the dusty highway linking the towns where a group of dancers carried a life-sized statue of Santa Barbara down the road ahead of mourners. Later came several marching bands who paraded through the city, each followed by its own dancing group, dressed in traditional outfits and doing traditional dances. I’d love to share videos of this, but wordpress only allows me to upload pictures. Instead, please enjoy this quality picture of moving people taken on a phone in the shade.
Unfortunately, one memory will stick with me longer than the Santa Barbara processions or my friend’s valedictorian speech.
It’s not a good memory.