Friday, 4 April 2014

Carnaval Time in Santa Cruz

San Pedro De Atacama Carnival

To leave Samaipata we had to take a 3 hour minibus to the big city of Santa Cruz. Just in time for Carnaval celebrations!

We were staying at Jodanga Hostel. When we walked in I was amazed at how huge and clean and bright it was. It had a big swimming pool with areas to relax. A nice bar that served good cocktails at Happy Hour. The dorms were big and spacious, and had a separate space to store bags, and hang clothes, and a big ensuite bathroom. The breakfast was also amazing with eggs cooked to your liking, fruit and cheese available. The only problem we found with the hostel was that it was so big and echoey that it didn't have much of an atmosphere and we didn't meet too many people. It was also tucked in the Southern corner of the city, so was far away from most things, and the maps they gave out were so terribly marked and photocopied that we ended up lost a couple of times!

Despite this, the staff were really friendly, and warned us about Carnaval time. Not only did they throw water bombs at each other like in Sucre, but they also sprayed each other with ink and foam. They recommended to not go out wearing nice clothes or with anything electrical you wouldn't want to be ruined. Hence the reason why I didn't get any photos of Santa Cruz!

In the evening, fuelled by a few of the happy hour cocktails, we decided to hit the parade with a group of the other guests. Nick prepared by filling up a bag of water balloons and off we went. The streets were absolutely packed with Bolivians wearing special clothing for the Carnaval. They would wear long, knee length colourful smocks. Each group, or church had their own design, and would walk around in big packs. The girls all had their hair braided and lots of them wore cowboy hats.

There were hundreds of street vendors, trying to sell cans of foam, bottles of ink, beer and food. A good combination! We found a spot where we could watch the parade. There were lots of women dressed in sparkly costumes with feathers, but sadly people from the crowd were spraying foam at them and they were completely white by the time they walked past us. They all looked so angry!

Every now and then people would walk past and spray us with foam. One boy did it in Nick's face, so he launched a water bomb at the boy. The boy, with ninja like reflexes, managed to dodge, and the balloon hit a police officer straight in the face. The water dripped off his nose and soaked his shirt. Ooops he was one very unhappy bunny. He stormed upto Nick and started demanding payment. It's the first time I actually thought we might have some trouble with the police, but fortunately one of the girls in our group was Brasillian and could speak Spanish well enough to smooth out the situation. It's thanks to her that I'm pretty sure Nick still has all of his money!

The next day in the hostel there were so many people who were stained blue and purple from the ink. Hair that used to be blonde was now indigo!

We spent one more night in Santa Cruz, avoiding the torrent of water and ink that was being thrown around, and spent it at the pool and watching films.

I feel bad that we didn't get to see what Santa Cruz had to offer, but we definitely got a good taste of Carnaval.

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