All over South America over this last month Carneval has been being celebrated (originally a pagan celebration of meat, most famously manifested in Rio's elaborate street parade.) A major theme of it is water wars. Here in Cochabamba you literally can not walk for 5 minutes down the street without several water balloons whizzing past or occassionally meeting their target (its pretty refreshing in the heat, thanks.) On Saturday we joined in the fun, after buying 50 filled balloons for 5 B's we trawled the city streets and woe to any rascal with a water gun who surely felt our liquid wrath. (Well, Tim's. Most of us were just the subjects of hilarity with our totally lame throwing skills. Generally soaking only ourselves.)
This weekend is the climax of the festivities with 2 statutary days off, the only holiday many Bolivianos will get all year. But this year the celebration is having a stand off with disaster as the clouds decide to join the party, bringing the most rain for 40 years. Flooding and land slips are making several appearances all over Bolivia. As the heavens declare their own water war the president has declared the country to be in a state of national emergencey.
52687 families have been made homeless from the damage
73495 acres of crops have been wiped out
21 main roads impassable
35 dead, 6 dissapeared
1200 with dengue fever (risen from 20 in 5 days)
and the stats are climbing by the minute....
It's already in a pretty sorry state, old Bolivia, (it receives the 3rd most global aid) and you've got to wonder why this stuff has to happen to such a country. A bit of me says- "its just the self perpetuating cycle... if the politically situ wasn't so unstable then infrastructure could cope with natural disasters etc." But a big chunk of me simply wonders why nature (which ultimatley God could stop!) chooses to let loose so regularly on places that can't cope.
(A site I have found since being in South America is the Democracy Center, which has offices in Cochabamba and San Fran, whose aim is "building democracy from the ground up", they have some rad articles. They also have a super interesting blog that has some light reading on Carnival from Bolivian perspective.)