Sunday, July 6, 2008

Drinking in Bolivia

Only in Bolivia can you find yourself at a house party where the average age of the evening's revelers is over 50 and YOU'RE the one whose not drinking fast enough...

Last night I went to a friend of a friend's Birthday "Borachera" (roughly translated as 'sloppy drunk shit-fest') hosted by the Bolivian family he's living with. They bought a lamb in the Camba (eastern Bolivian rural hinterland) and roasted it. They also happened to come back with approximately 30 gallons of chicha which they transported to Cochabamba in giant gasoline drums.

Now, the Birthday Boy of the evening, Eliot, is a Kiwi and consequently no stranger to drinking. (As we Americans know from their ridiculous accents, all Australians and Kiwis are raging alcoholics.) However, the real drinkers of the evening, of course, were our Bolivian hosts. Grandma's only job of the evening was to continuously refil the communal serving gourd with chicha and make people chug it. She litterally stood over me every time she served me a drink and watched to make sure I drank it all. One time (of too many to count) there was some murky shit floating around at the bottom of the bowl, so I tried to pass it back to her without finishing it all, ultimately to no avail. "No no no... ¡Seco!" she said, with a disapproving gaze. I obediently chewed down the remainder of my chicha...

We also danced the Bailecito (literally, "cute little dance"), a Cochabambino courtship dance in 6/8 performed by waving handkerchiefs around in the air. It's kind of like a 'musical chairs' of sorts, except when the music stops, you don't sit down, you chug a beer!

Needless to say, we all got drunk. I managed alright. Unfortunately, my lady friend co-attendee of the evening happens to suffer from an acute alcohol metabolism inefficiency (it's called being Asian). She passed out in the cab ride home.

As for me, if I still have solid poop after 2 nights of drinking what is effectively half-fermented corn moonshine, I'll consider it a win.

¡Ciao amigos!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bolivian "New Months"

So, it turns out that Cornell University '04 alumni aren't the only people in the world to celebrate "New Months." The Quechuans of Bolivia also share this peculiar custom. "K'oa," as they call it, falls on the first Friday of every month. Like most Bolivian holidays, this celebration consists of drinking copious amounts of chicha (a corn-based libation) until you pass out in the street. Should be a blast...

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!
¡Gringo imperialista de mierda! Yankee go home! ¡Viva la revolution, siempre! Werd.

The Harlem Globetrotters

Dododo dodo dodo dodo do dodo! Yes, they really do play that song as they play, or perform, or do tricks, or what have you...

So, I was fortunate enough to see the Harlem Globetrotters destroy the Washington Generals last night at the Coronilla dome in Cochabamba. The gate was 50 Bolivianos (approx. $7). They were awesome, as was to be expected, although I could have done without their team captain "Special K" being mic'ed through an excrutiatingly loud PA system for the entirety of the game...
It was also funny watching small Bolivian children charge the court on multiple occassions for various contests sponsored by TIGO, a privately-owned Bolivian cellphone carrier. On one occassion there was a scrum of kids fighting over a free soccer ball. I could have sworn I saw one of 'em get literally thrown out of the pile and another accidentally stepped on what looked like his throat. Our paternalistic American culture would have never permitted such a riotous scene, so I was grateful for the experience. (That and the relatively limited access most Bolivians have to effective methods of litigation...)

The real suprise of the evening came after the game when one of my new friends/ roommates, EB, managed to score the Globetotters' first-string center "Big Easy's" digits. (I guess it helps if you're the only group of English-speakers in the entire stadium.) He promised to party with us but later reneged and instead requested EB's presence in his hotel room. (The R Kelly tune of the same name comes to mind...) Apparently, they had a 7am flight to La Paz the next morning. Poor little sleepy head...

Alas, no Globetrotters after-party, but we did manage to spot a local Bolivian professional b-ball player at the bar after the game. He was fat and old. Then we went to Pimienta and danced the night away. (Yes, they really do have a dance club in Cochabamba called "Pimienta.")
It happened. It was awesome. Dig it.