Follow us in:

From August 14 to 16, 2011: Trinidad

Vírgen de Urkupiña festivities

It seems we have arrived just in time to witness the festivities of La Virgen de Urkupiña. At noon on Sunday, several folkloric groups parade around the main square wearing their traditional dresses and dancing to the tunes the bands that follow them play. In most groups, men and women go separately. The women wear dresses made ​​with overlapping skirts. Men's costumes are western style and the only thing that stands out is the rattle that sounds in sync with the music. In between each other, girls dressed like drag queens walk on their platforms in glittering costumes. There is another striking character. This is a man with a typical mask from the Oruro carnival. The poor guy wears a beautiful electric blue long thick jacket embroidered but the 97 degrees must be cooking him inside. We follow them to the Pompeya neighborhood, where the parade ends and the rounds of cold beer begin.

Vírgen de Urkupiña festivitiesAt night, while having dinner at the terrace of a restaurant in the plaza, the evening session of parades begins. Now it's time for the young people. For this celebration, groups of several locations from other departments have come to Trini. This is very clear based on the type of costumes they wear. The groups from the Andes are covered from head to foot, while the ones from the Amazonian area are almost naked. One of the most striking groups wears shoes with tiny cymbals as a spur. The dance consists of strong footwork that makes them sound as they turn. Their traditional dress is very colorful, with multicolored stripes over a black fabric. While spinning, they wave a red handkerchief in their hands. Amazonian groups have live rhythms and dances are more vigorous, including jumps. Part of their clothing includes large feathered crowns that go from their head to the ground. The costumes are made of thin fabrics and bright, colorful sequins. Some participants have their faces covered with masks of grotesque characters.  The last act of the night is the Mass and sanctification of the statuettes that each group has brought from their locations, before taking them out of the church on shoulders and going once more around the square.


The following day is dedicated to museum visits. First the Ethnoarchaeological, consisting of two distinct parts. The first part exhibits the costumes of the traditional dances of Beni, of which the most famous is Los Macheteros of San Ignacio de Moxos. The highlight of this dress is the semicircular crown made of macaw tail feathers. Most of the dances in the department of Beni have a religious origin, but mix indigenous elements. The second part of the museum displays some pottery and aerial photographs of the hydraulic cultures from the flooding areas of the Beni region. It is assumed that before the conquistadores arrived, there was a culture that knew how to build channels and platforms on high grounds to control seasonal flooding and use it to their advantage. By means of redirecting rivers and accumulating water in artificial lagoons, they kept the land for their crops moist but not waterlogged. Little is known of these cultures due to the lack of studies, but also because of the few remains that have been found in good condition. The climate and especially the humidity of the region favor the aging and destruction of archaeological remains. 

The other two museums we visit are the fish and botanic museums, located on campus. The first preserves 400 species of fish from the Amazonian region of Beni in formaldehydetanks. Among others, we can see a young specimen of the pink Bolivian river dolphin locally known as bufeo, a chuncuina over five feet long and several species of piranha. The side comments of the girl who guides us are funny: how to cook some of the species and how tasteful they are. The botanical museum shows collections of seeds, fruits and wood of the flora of the Beni department. Back in the city we witness how the firefighters capture a porcupine that had climbed on a roof. The poor thing is cornered but defends itself with its spines against the 3 the firefighters that are needed to catch him. 

Family motorbikeThe pace of the walks in Trinidad is slow, to avoid sweating too much. The only one time you have to sprint is when crossing the streets. The motorbike flow is constant and heavy day and night. In the same way one can sit on a bench in the Ramblas in Barcelona to see people pass by, we sit at the terrace of a bar to see the variety of motorcycles and their riders. The concept of a bike is different here. On one hand, a motorcycle is a family vehicle where 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 people can travel. On the other one, on a motorcycle you can do everything. Talking on the phone is just normal but you can also eat, drink, sleep while mom holds you, and so on. In the left panel there is a link to a photo album dedicated to the several ways of riding a motorbike in Trini.

Go to top