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Carnival in Santa Cruz – Carnage!

Its early morning in Santa Cruz. I’m walking town the main street towards the plaza, passing boarded up shops and banks. The cars on the side of the road are all smeared in mud. There’s not a person in sight. I fear that maybe I’ve slept through the Apocalypse. But as I was to soon find out, the real war was yet to come…

(featured pic credit: Pinterest)

On the last days before lent each year the entire continent of South America erupts into the worlds largest party: Carnival. In Bolivia (as well as most of South America) Carnival is far bigger than Christmas or any other holiday. Bolivia takes Carnival so seriously that when Chile invaded Bolivia in the War of the Pacific in the late 1800s, Bolivia waited until Carnival was over to respond. Part religious procession, part mega dance fiesta, and part paint ball-game, the Carnaval here in Santa Cruz is one not to be missed.

The city of Santa Cruz lies in southern eastern Bolivia close to the Brazilian border, where many of its citizens want the city to become part of Brazil. This is where the upper class people live; the infrastructure, the cars, and the women are much better than the rest of the country. This is not for the faint hearted.

The main festivities and parades take place among the city’s outer rings, where, if you have money, you can join the parade (nothing on Ouru and dance in silly costumes in front of drunken locals who are only there to peeve on the sexy dancers. In failing that idea, you can pay large amounts of money to attend a parking lot party. Its a party, in a car park, where you drink all you can, eat parrilla and listen to samba music. Or, you take to the open streets at midday, armed with spray foam, sunglasses and a water gun filled with purple and blue ink and prepare for warfare!!

Its the craziest party you’ll ever attend. Flocks of people, from young kids to grandparents join in the fun, ready to attack you whilst you try to drink from your can of beer and dance in the rave partys that randomly break out in the middle of the street. Within hours, the city is destroyed. I’m on a 18 hour bus to La Paz and I look like a smurf.