Yesterday, September 14th, was the 201st  anniversary of the department of Cochabamba! It’s quite the celebration here, considering we are in the department–the schools celebrate with dances, songs, and speeches the week of, the flag of the department is flown from cars and houses, and there are tons and tons of fireworks!

Because there was no school yesterday, the schools the girls attend had celebrations on Tuesday. In the morning, a small group of us went to watch Elena dance the Caporales at her school. The Caporales is a very traditional dance that comes of the time of Spanish rule. The male dancers dress in heeled boots and large, decorated belts–the typical dress of a Spanish military guard, while the women wear extremely, elaborately decorated skirts and shirts with high heels and a matching hat. It is still extremely popular today, and huge groups of dancers dance the Caporales in national festivities and parades.

Elena and her classmates danced for about 45 minutes, but did a wonderful job! Within the traditional dance, there is a lot of jumping and movement, but none of the students showed that they were tired and worn out! Elena was so nervous before the dance started, but the group of us who went to show support were very impressed with her dancing! I was also very exciting for me because I got to help Elena get ready, and I honestly felt like a big sister! These are the best moments of my job!

After lunch, we went to another school in our neighborhood to watch Cynthia dance the Cueca! The Cueca is an extremely beautiful dance and each department in Bolivia has their own version. (Cynthia and her classmates danced the Cueca that is from Cochabamba.) The clothing worn for the Cochabamba Cueca is different than that worn in other parts of Bolivia. The women wear a white traditional hat and traditional shirt with a light blue skirt, while the men wear black pants, a white shirt, a vest, and brown or black hat. The Cueca of Cochabamba is very lively with fast movements of the feet! Cynthia and her classmates also did a wonderful job with this dance!

I love to attend the celebrations at the girls’ schools not only to show them support and of course take pictutres, but to also see and experience the Bolivian culture. Along with the traditional dances, the students sang the hymns of the country and the department, as well as recited poems written by Bolivian authors and some of the students! Attending the festivals and parades makes me jealous that in the United States we do not have traditional dances and songs! I guess I will just have to bring the dances I have learned here back home with me!