Yesterday was such a “Bolivian” day here in Sucre: great fun, happy people, yet oh so not organized. The event was the 10th Folklorica event named after the Juana Azurduy de Padilla University: “Respirando 10 Años de Libertad”, or Breathing 10 years of Liberty. This is a big event: 30+ teams of Folklorica, roughly translated as folk-dancing, where the teams could number up in the hundreds. The teams dance / parade along a lengthy route, with spectators galore, until they finally reach the main plaza where bleachers have been constructed for the spectators, and where the judges are located.
In true Bolivian style, it is very difficult to find out anything ahead of time: when does it start? where is the route? can we get tickets for the bleachers? etc? We had heard through the grapevine that it was important to buy tickets, and if we bought tickets after 9.00 am, they would be sold out. So, early in the morning, down to the main plaza we went. Finally, by 10.30, the ticket sellers were organized enough to where we could purchase the tickets.
Then, of course, we were curious as to what we had actually bought tickets for, and when the event would start. Sorting through the different answers we got – from the event organizers, the police who were standing close by, and other ticket buyers – we understood that the parade was to start at 11.00 am, and it would likely take three to four hours before it reached the main plaza, and the bleachers where we had purchased tickets. Excellent, this meant we would have time to catch the Holland – Denmark football game with our friends, Azaria and Marika, from Holland.
At around 14.oo, we headed back down to the Plaza as this was the earliest we had been told to expect any Folklorica teams. Asking around again, we quickly determined that 16,oo, or maybe 17.oo was a more likely time for the first teams to show up – they had barely left the starting point at 14.oo. They were supposed to leave at 11.00…
Ok, not so bad, we now had time to watch the Germany – Portugal game as well. And lo and behold, by 17.oo the first team made an appearance.
To try and impress the judges, some of the teams incorporated kids. Crafty move, as Bolivian kids are, by far, the cutest kids anywhere.
But, after about 5 teams, out of 32, the parade stopped. Asking around, we were told that this was normal: the best teams waited for evening / night time to ensure that the crowds were in place, and so their fire-works could be seen.
No big deal, we went and had some dinner. Then back to the bleachers by 18.30 or so. Now the parade was starting to liven up, the bleachers were full, the spectators were having a great time, as were the dancers.
And then the fireworks started coming out.
We lasted until about 21.oo; it had been a long day. As we were walking home to our hostel, we met the family who owns it. They were just walking down to the square to partake of the parade. Which, btw, went on until about 1.30 in the morning…
The next day, the local paper, http://www.correodelsur.com/2012/0610/3.php, had an article on the folkfest. While some people were irritated at the major delays of the parade, others suggested that the delays were more in line with a real folk festival, where “everyone feels at ease…”. Gotta love Bolivia.