Virgen de Guadalupe Parades in Sucre, Bolivia
I’d like to say that it was my impeccable travel skills that brought me to Sucre, Bolivia, just in time for their biggest festival of the year: Virgen de Guadalupe. But, who are we kidding? I had no idea it was going on until I checked into my hostel and the guy working there told me it was starting the next day.
September’s Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe brought people from all over the region in to celebrate: the town was packed! The festival centered around a parade that featured community after community performing traditional dances in traditional outfits. There was everything from flashy sequined costumes to simple peasant gowns to ready to rumble miner gear. It was so popular that on Saturday we had to buy seats in order to view it. Every inch of space along the parade route was blocked off, some spaces with chalked numbers for you to call. (Ticket scalping happens in all countries, I guess!) Luckily the guy at my hostel went out to buy tickets and we scored seats for 50 Bolivianos (about $7) each.
No one could really give me a clear answer as to when the festivities actually started. And it didn’t help that the only flyer I could find listed a start time for one day as 13:00pm and for the next as 8:00pm. (You can’t use military time AND am/pm and have them contradict!)
But, on Friday I arrived at the parade around 3pm and left around 9:30pm. It was still going in full force.
On Saturday I arrived at the parade around 4pm and left around 2am. It was still going in full force.
And on Sunday, despite the roads no longer being blocked off, people were still at it!
So I can tell you that it started at some time on Friday and then probably is still going on weeks later.
I can also tell you that the packaged cuba libre that some Bolivian 22-year kept giving to me tasted more like chocolate soda than rum and Coke.