Wild, wet and foamy, Carneval in Tarija

Carneval is exhausting, a lot of fun, but exhausting fun. I don’t know about the performers, who have to dance and sing their way around town while being soaked with water and foam, but a few more days of this and I’ll need a holiday.

Sunday saw the big carneval parade in Tarija: the stands along the parade route were packed, the water guns loaded and cans of foam spray were selling faster than hotcakes. First though, the gathered thousands had to endure a torrential downpour, but since everyone expected to get wet (and covered in foam) at some point during the festivities, summer rain was greeted like an old friend.

Like most fiestas I’ve been to in Bolivia, carneval had its elements of chaos, but that makes it all the more human. I’ve not been to Rio or Salvador for carneval, but I imagine they are more managed. The parade route in Tarija was constantly being plied by a host of people selling everything you’d ever need for several hours of sitting in the stands: food, drink, waterproof clothing, foam spray, masks.

The endless processing of sellers mingled with the performers and spectators alike. Small children ran a-mock amongst the stands and performers. Foam and water were constantly being sprayed at just about everyone who passed by and, every now-and-then, a section of the stands would suddenly erupt into a mass foam fight.

Part of the stand erupts with a foam fight, carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Part of the stand erupts with a foam fight, carneval, Tarija, Bolivia

Our section of the stand did this regularly, seemingly with the sole intention of covering me in foam. I was nearly drowned in the stuff – this photo is after the nice woman behind me had lent me her child’s blanket to wipe most of the foam off.

Foam victims at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Foam victims at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia

A lot of the carneval is non-traditional, with people dressed in a variety of strange costumes, others as mythical creatures, Egyptians, mummies, etc. One unexpected element though is the number of young men who cross-dress for the day, the antics of whom made the crowd hysterical. There is a very strong element of transitory transvestitism in the whole parade.

Anyway, here are some photos from when I was still able to have the camera out without fear of getting it soaked in water or foam.

Performer at carneval in Tarija, Bolivia
Performer at carneval in Tarija, Bolivia
Performer at carneval in Tarija, Bolivia
Performer at carneval in Tarija, Bolivia
Performers at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Performers at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Carneval Queen and her princesses, Tarija, Bolivia
Carneval Queen and her princesses, Tarija, Bolivia
First and second 'princesses' of the carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
First and second ‘princesses’ of the carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Performers at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Performers at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
King Kong float, carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
King Kong float, carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Performers at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Performers at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Candy floss seller at carneval in Tarija, Bolivia
Candy floss seller at carneval in Tarija, Bolivia
Jello and cream seller at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Jello and cream seller at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Foam victims at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia
Foam victims at carneval, Tarija, Bolivia

3 thoughts on “Wild, wet and foamy, Carneval in Tarija

  1. Reblogged this on Sunrise…Travel Talk with Maggi and commented:
    Bolivia is on my list of places to travel to, and the Carnival is only one of the reasons…..

    1. Thanks for the reblog, much appreciated. Bolivia is a great country to travel in. Carnival may not be as big as Brazil but it is great fun.

  2. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

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