Bolivia 17 Feb 2007 00:00
Once a year, Oruro, a moth-coloured mining town on the Andean altiplano, emerges from its drab cocoon as an extravagant butterfly. Fueled by the sacred coca leaf, dancers and musicians parade along a 4km route in the 20-hour homage to the devil. Then they fall to their knees and crawl into the cathedral to worship the Virgin and receive blessings from the priest. From bleachers lining the streets, tens of thousands of spectators from all over Bolivia celebrate this spiritual procession by randomly hurling water bombs as hard as they can. They also spray foam from pressurized canisters, often on purpose, directly into the faces of their victims. After all, it’s easier to rob someone blinded by stinging foam. Bolivia’s Vice President, Álvaro Garcia Linera, and President Evo Morales chose foam as their weapon of choice. A bodyguard takes snapshots as the president and his top official spray each other amidst roars of laughter. Meanwhile, dancers and brass bands careen by in a kaleidoscopic clash of bodies, colors and sounds.
FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST