Burning the Muñeco: A New Year’s Celebration in Peru

Even for those of us blessed with good health and happiness, sometimes there are those years.  Hard years, challenging years – years that make the celebration of New Year’s Eve something particularly meaningful. If this has been one of those years for you, you might try a trip to Peru, where their tradition of Burning the Muñeco (Doll) is a visual representation of the change from the old year to the new one.

Peruvians burn the muñeco in the New Year’s celebration.  This doll is similar to a scarecrow or an effigy, and can, in fact, be considered an effigy of the Old Year.

The muñeco dresses in rags or is made with paper, and totally filled with flammable material or sometimes fireworks.  At midnight it is set on fire on New Year’s Eve.

Although some still make them at home, these days, many stores sell them commercially.

New Year’s Celebration in Peru and Burning the Muñeco

Many countries practice this tradition throughout South America and parts of Mexico.

This tradition is yet another example of religious syncretism, or a combination of different cultures into one belief system, common in Hispanic religion due to the influence of the Spanish.

Also a tradition in parts of the Old World, the burning of the Año Viejo is considered to have come from pagan rituals in Europe.

The burning of the muñeco is at its most basic a real-world representation of the common desire that most people have to leave bad events of the year in the past and to start the New Year with a positive attitude.

Different Kinds of Muñecos

Muñeco waiting to be used.

Muñeco waiting to be used.

One of the unique aspects of the New Year’s celebration in Peru is that muñecos often deal with current events, both local and national. For example, you can find politicians and famous Peruvian celebrities on store-bought muñecos, depending on what has happened in the country during the year.

Communities will also have figures of famous (or infamous) locals. Interestingly, many muñecos are actually based on respected or popular figures, not just those with negative opinions.

Muñecos and Waquis in Parco

As with most traditions, there are regional differences. One of the more well-known places they celebrate by burning el muñeco in Peru is in the District of Parco, in central Peru about four hours from Lima. In this Andean region, inhabitants accompany the muñeco by waquis, dancers that represent the Old Year as locals bid it goodbye.

The waquis dress in rags, with tattered hats and sandals, wearing wooden masks expressing different emotions. Each dancer plays a role in this representation of the old year, and the dances demonstrate the pain the year feels at having to leave.

With handmade rattles and more modern instruments, the parade plays songs with the Andean rhythm huayno. They also play the fool to the amusement of the town residents, hiding their “pain” with clowning and mocking of those in attendance.

In this area, the celebration goes very late. The “quema del muñeco” actually takes place in the early hours of January 1, after musicians and the waqui dancers traverse the different streets of the area waking up residents, who say goodbye to this representation of the year from their doorways.

Residents soon make their way to the plaza, where the giant Muñeco is waiting. The party continues from there, with traditional food and drinks and a celebration that last until the wee hours.

The New Year’s celebration in Peru and other countries is a vivid representation of how ancient traditions have survived through history and how they continue to be culturally relevant today.

Burning of the muñeco is part of good Peruvian Christmas traditions, because no matter how you celebrate the holidays, everyone wants to have a happy New Year.

Would you like to burn away the old year? Tell us about it in the comments!

Christmas in Bolivia

One of the most beautiful aspects of Navidad in Latin America is that each country has its own traditions, but they all still have the underlying feeling of Hispanic Christmas. Christmas in Bolivia is no exception.

Like many parts of Latin America, the Christmas season in Bolivia lasts from December 24th to January 6th. The Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) is perhaps the most important event of the Christmas season for Catholics. As in many parts of the world, Bolivian Catholics attend a midnight mass.

After the Misa de Gallo, a meal is shared as a family. The main dish is traditionally a spicy soup called La Picana, which has chicken, beef or lamb, and pork, and Bolivians serve with corn and potatoes.

On Christmas morning, breakfast is generally buñuelos, or fried dough, served with a drink such as api (made of corn) or hot chocolate.

Traditions of Christmas in Bolivia

In homes, Bolivian Christmas decorations often center around a pesebre, or Nativity Scene. Also called a nacimiento, mangers can be simple, with just the primary characters of the Christmas story, or more elaborate, with up to hundreds of figures.  Pesebres are sometimes made of local gourds which are hollowed out.

Another important aspect of la Navidad en Bolivia is the Spanish Christmas songs, or villancicos. Because of the large number of indigenous people in the country, these traditional songs are not only in Spanish, but are also in languages such as Quechua and Aymara.

The carols are so ingrained in the culture that even people who don’t speak the Quechua and Aymara languages are familiar with them. On Christmas Eve, children will sing and dance to these carols in their homes.

Traditions regarding Christmas trees and presents vary among parts of Bolivia. For example, in certain regions, Christmas trees are common both at home and in cities, as public decorations; in others, no.

Also, some families exchange gifts on Christmas Day, others after eating dinner on Christmas Eve, and yet others on Three Kings Day (Jan.6, Epiphany).

Poverty and Christmas

Activities for underprivileged children are common at Christmastime in Bolivia.

Activities for underprivileged children are common at Christmastime in Bolivia.

Bolivia is a very much a developing country, with more than half the population living in poverty.

In fact, many families do not exchange Christmas gifts at all due to a lack of resources. As such, it’s not surprising that many Christmas traditions have to do with the poor.

For example, it’s common for social organizations to organize campaigns to collect food and toys for families.They also organize parties called Chocolatadas where underprivileged children are served hot chocolate and treats, and are often given presents.

Poverty has impacted Christmas in Bolivia in other ways. For example, in cities it’s common to see people from rural areas who arrive in hopes of receiving a handout from those in the holiday spirit of giving.

Poor children also sing and dance to villancicos on the streets as they ask for money.

Gift Baskets for Christmas

Another important and touching tradition is that of the traditional gift basket that employers give to their employees.

Large enough to be shared with families, the Canastón de fin de año is filled with basic groceries, as well as traditional Christmas goodies, especially cidra (non-alcoholic cider) and panetón, a sweetbread with raisins, nuts, and dried fruit.

Employers give this basket as an end-of-year appreciation for hard work, the gift is particularly special since bonuses are not generally offered throughout the year.

Perhaps the most joyous aspect of Christmas in Bolivia are the famed fireworks, or pólvora. Said by some to rival Fourth of July celebrations in the United States, these bright colors light up the night on Christmas Eve.

Have you spent Christmas in Bolivia? Tell us about it in the comments!

Using Papel Picado Banner for Your Day of the Dead

Mexican folk art is filled with vibrant colors, and one of the best examples is papel picado (cut paper). The idea is to hung papel picado banners to wave in the breeze and you can use this handmade art form to celebrate important personal events such as weddings, quinceañeras, baptisms, as well as holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

Outside of Mexico, it is perhaps most associated with the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) where it plays a prominent role in decorations.

History of the Papel Picado Banner

Papel picado banners add a festive Latin touch to your celebration.

Papel picado banners add a festive Latin touch to your celebration.

The papel picado history goes back to both the Aztecs and ancient China. Before the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, the Aztecs traditionally created a paper called amatl, which they then cut with stone knives. These images were generally religious, featuring Aztec deities.

With the arrival of the Spanish came the inclusion of Mexico in international trade routes. One good which arrived was tissue paper, called papel china (Chinese paper) due to its origins. This new, fine paper was soon incorporated into the Mexican folk art tradition as papel picado.

Papel Picado Technique

Creating traditional papel picado is a technical, time-consuming process that requires special tools, lots of experience, and a steady hand, not to mention a great deal of patience. The entire process can take 30 or more hours for one set of 40 pieces of papel picado.

The first step is to draw a pattern, focusing not only on design but also on physics: it has to be able to support itself once the paper has been cut away. Next, the pattern is placed on a stack of tissue paper, which sits on top of a thick lead platform.

The next step is to cut away the pattern using a series of specially made, sharpened chisels, each of a different size and shape. Once the negative space has been removed completely, the papel picado is complete.

Make Your Own Papel Picado Banner

Papel picado is a great addition to any Day of the Dead party, and it’s also a lot of fun for kids to try as a craft.

Since most of us don’t have specialized chisels at home, scissors will have to do. There are a number of different ways to create a home version of papel picado, but this is my favorite because it creates a series of squares, much like papel picado artisans create. Thanks to HappyThought.co.uk for the video and instructions.

Materials:
Printed pattern templates
Colored tissue or crepe paper in several colors, cut to letter size
Scissors
Masking tape

Instructions:
1. Fold template in half, with drawing on the outside.
2. Take 4-5 pieces of paper and fold them in half.
3. Assemble them like a book, with template on the outside. Tape the top so it won’t move.
4. Cut through the outside of the template.
5. Cut out the rest of the template. Continue to fold the “book” to access the inside shapes.
6. Unfold, remove tape, and flatten out the sheets.
7. Make your banner: Lay tape sticky-side up. Place sheets on half of the tape. Fold over to seal.

And lastly: Hang your papel picado banner over your Day of the Dead altar!

Want to know more? Hispanic Culture Online is one of the Web’s best resources on the Day of the Dead. Check out our archives here.

How do you plan to celebrate Day of the Dead? Tell us in the comments!

Day of the Dead in El Salvador

Most Latin American countries celebrate El Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead.  Each country has its own traditions. Day of the Dead in El Salvador, also known as the Day of the Faithful Departed (Día de los Fieles Difuntos), has an especially painful difference from the celebration in other parts of Latin America.

Day of the Dead in El Salvador

In 1980s, much of Central America was embroiled in civil war, and El Salvador was no exception. During the revolution, some 75,000 people were killed or disappeared. Of those whose bodies were found, many are in mass graves.

Others have been located but are still to be reburied. As such, November 2 has a much more somber meaning in El Salvador. For a culture that honors its dead, it brings great sorrow to be unable to visit them in their final resting place on this important day.

Honoring Those Lost in the Civil War

Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad, a common gathering place on the Day of the Dead in El Salvador.

Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad, a common gathering place on the Day of the Dead in El Salvador.

In honor of those lost and unrecovered in the war, there are monuments to the dead that attempt to give families a place to go on Day of the Dead in El Salvador. The most prominent example is the Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad (Monument to Memory and Truth) in San Salvador.

Much like the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Monumento lists the name of known victims of the violence, and it is heavily visited on the Day of the Dead by families who leave flowers and candles at its base.

The date has also become an important one for organizations working on behalf for victims of the civil war. By commemorating those lost through vigils and religious ceremonies, they continue to advocate for reparations and legislation, as well for more information about the whereabouts of victims.

La Calabuiza

A more joyful aspect of Day of the Dead in El Salvador dates to much before the 1980s – in fact, it was celebrated even before the arrival of the Spanish in Latin America. It’s called La Calabiuza, and in El Salvador, it is one of the reasons that Halloween has yet to make as big of impact on its culture as it has in other parts of the world.

La Calabiuza is Held in Tonacetepeque, north of San Salvador where this festival turns November 1 into a celebration of the popular culture of El Salvador.

From the word “skull” in the language of the local indigenous people, the La Calabiuza festival was able to hold its own for centuries, even with the pressure from Spanish colonists to convert to their own traditions.

Revelers, mostly young people, dress as characters from Salvadoran legends and myths, as well as skeletons and other painted characters.

Examples of characters include La Siguanaba, a beautiful woman who abandons her son and is then cursed, and El Cipitío, her son, who wears a pointy hat. You’ll also see La Llorona, the crying woman common throughout Latin American legends, and the frightening Central American mythical creature El Cadejo.

With the upheavals of the civil war, people abandoned the tradition of La Calabiuza. But after its end, community leaders did their best to bring it back, in part to pre-empt the import of Halloween.

Nowadays, the festival has modern touches such as a costume contest, food stalls, and a dance.

Both the vibrant La Calabiuza and more emotional Day of the Dead traditions are part of El Salvador’s culture of respect for those that came before them and fit squarely into the Hispanic tradition of Day of the Dead.

Want to know more? Hispanic Culture Online is one of the Web’s best resources on the Day of the Dead. Check out our archives here.

Does your family celebrate Day of the Dead? Tell us in the comments.

Hispanic Heritage Month Themes

Hispanic Heritage Month is coming up, and for teachers, that means a great opportunity to teach their students about the many cultures that Hispanic people represent.

But first maybe you are wondering: When did Hispanic Heritage Month begin? It actually dates back to 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first Hispanic Heritage Week. 20 years later, Congress expanded it to a whole month. And that means a month of lessons.

Are you a teacher looking for Hispanic Heritage Month themes? Here are a few ideas:

Hispanic Heritage Month Theme #1: Day of the Dead

Face painting is a great way to celebrate Day of the Dead in the classroom.

Face painting is a great way to celebrate Day of the Dead in the classroom.

This Hispanic Heritage Month theme is very timely. With the creation of the animated movie The Book of Life, this is a great chance to teach your students about el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

  • Elementary: Students color drawings of Day of the Dead skulls.
  • Junior High: Students research, make, and decorate sugar skulls in class. At the end of the month, they have a Day of the Dead party where they paint their faces similar to a sugar skull.
  • High School: Students research the tradition of the Day of the Dead altar. Then they create an altar, with different groups bringing different offerings (ofrendas).As appropriate, those represented can be famous people who have died, or students can choose to honor loved ones who have died, such as grandparents.

Hispanic Heritage Month Theme #2: Music

Latin America is famous for its music. Your students will love learning more about it.

  • Elementary: Make maracas. All they need is beans and a juice can.
  • Junior High: Each week, pick a different style of Latin music (salsa, cumbia, mambo, merengue, mariachi, trova, Andean panpipes, etc.).Play several songs, then have them talk about the music: how does it make them feel, is it similar to something they know, etc. At the end of the month, the class votes on its favorite, which is then the featured music at a Hispanic celebration.
  • High School: In groups, students pick a Latin ritmo (rhythm): salsa, merengue, cumbia, etc. Using the Internet, they learn how to do the accompanying dance.The groups then do a presentation where they teach the others the steps. At an end-of-month party, all the ritmos are played and the students practice – and have fun!

Hispanic Heritage Month Theme #3: Legends and Stories

Latin America is rich in myths, ghost stories, and legendary figures. This Hispanic Heritage Month theme is very versatile because each country has its own myths and legends.

  • Elementary: Have students color drawings of Latin American myths or dress up as them.
  • Junior High: Students read several ghost stories or legends. In groups, they write and then perform their own mini-plays based on the stories.
  • High School: Students pick a country and research one of its legends. They then do presentations for the class.

Want more ideas? Hispanic Culture Online is one of the Web’s best resources on Hispanic Month. Check out our archives here.

Are you a teacher looking for Hispanic Heritage Month themes? Share your ideas in the comments!

How to Make Tortilla Bowls for 5 de Mayo

Once you’ve mastered the art of making your own fresh tortillas, you’ll probably be eager to try out all the different ways you can use them. Of course there are the classic recipes like tacos and enchiladas, but did you know that you can make your own tortilla bowls for taco salad at home too?

Taco salad is a really popular dish, because it eliminates a common problem that happens while eating tacos: you’re munching along quite happily, and then all of a sudden all your taco fixings fall out the bottom of the taco!

It’s hard to eat a taco politely when half of the meat and cheese is threatening to slide out the bottom and little flakes of shredded lettuce are raining down all over your plate.

Of course, sometimes getting a little messy is part of the fun of eating tacos. But for other occasions where stricter table manners are required, you can serve taco salad.

Taco salad includes all the goodies you would find in a regular taco, layered inside of a tortilla bowl so you can eat them with a fork or with chips made from broken pieces of the bowl.

Serving Taco Salad in Tortilla Bowls

Taco salad served in a tortilla bowl looks fancy, but it’s actually really easy to make. All you have to do is make your tortillas as you normally would, mixing up your masa, forming it into balls, and then flattening and cooking them into perfect, round tortillas using your tortilla maker. Here are my tips on making perfect tortillas using a tortilla maker.

Place your finished tortillas into a handy tortilla server to keep them warm as you finish making the rest of your batch.

Making Your Tortilla Bowl in 3 Steps

Making a s

Making a small flower tortilla bowl

Here is the best part, keeping your tortillas warm in a tortilla server gives you the most desirable shells.

1-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and get out some olive oil, a cookie sheet, and something ovenproof to drape your tortillas over.

While you can purchase tortilla bowl molds for this purpose, as long as you don’t require perfectly symmetrical fluted-bowls you can use a regular ovenproof bowl instead. I’ve even seen people use the backs of muffin cups to create mini bowls.

2-Take your tortillas out of the tortilla warmer. They should still be very pliable, but if they’ve cooled too much you can always microwave them for a few seconds. Not the best though as microwaving tends to take the moisture out of them.

Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with your olive oil, and then gently press them into place over the back side of your bowl or mold.

3-Bake the tortillas for 12 or 13 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy. You can use other molds to achieve creative shapes.

Be the talk of the party by serving unique mini taco salads with mini-bowls made with different sizes cupcake molds and there you have it: piping hot, fresh and crispy bowls for taco salad.

Because they’ve been baked instead of fried, they’re much healthier than those you would probably get at a restaurant. If you have any bowls left over, break them up and serve them as chips with queso or one of your favorite Mexican salsa recipes.

I will experiment soon with small taco salad shells so I am thinking about serving 3 on a plate to make it fun. Each can have different ingredients.

Simple, right? Try this twist and let me know how you do by writing to me on the comments

How Is La Semana Santa in Peru

In the week leading up to Easter, Latinos around the world celebrate Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with special religious ceremonies, parades, vigils, and meals. While all Semana Santa festivities share a common root in traditions from the Catholic Church, different countries have put their own spin on the various events of Holy Week over the years.

Reading about several Holy week celebrations amongst Latinos, I realized Semana Santa in Peru seems especially rich, vibrant, and mystical compared to your typical Holy Week amongst Latinos in the US.

What Makes Semana Santa in Peru Special

As in many Latin American countries, Catholic celebrations in Peru feel infused with indigenous beliefs, imagery, food, and traditions.

I frequently amuse myself with the idea of celebrating in Semana Santa in Peru, simply because as a family we could experience these fascinating differences. And because Peru makes the entire week of Semana Santa a national holiday, you’ll have plenty of company during the festivities.

Best Places to Celebrate Holy Week in Peru

What caught my attention is how several cities in the same tiny country can certainly celebrate Holy Week pretty differently when it comes to parades, foods and rituals.

The whole country of Peru basically shuts down to celebrate Holy Week. While you can find interesting celebrations in any city, unique events and traditions in the following spots typically draw the most visitors.

Iquitos: Holy Week always involves some kind of fasting because the Catholic Church forbids meat on Good Friday.
If In Iquitos, try the meat-free dish, which consists of yucca, a typical staple of the Amazonian region of Peru.
The main attraction of celebrating Holy Week in Iquitos must be viewing the city’s unique take on the custom of scourging penitents on the Thursday of Holy Week.

Many communities have scourgings or whippings to symbolize repentance for sins and help the faithful experience a bit of what Jesus felt before the crucifixion, but only in rural communities like Iquitos will your mother-in-law dish out these whippings!

la-semana-santa-in-peru-1

Porcón: Many Holy Week celebrations involve the carrying of effigies of Jesus and Mary through the streets in elaborate processions. In Porcón, another interesting parade takes place featuring over 50 huge crosses, which locals carry to the chapel with great devotion and piety.

One of the most enriching experiences in the town is to enjoy hearing the traditional liturgies in Quechua instead of Spanish in this small rural community.

Ayacucho: High in the Andes city of Ayacucho, you can experience some of the most beautiful and devout Holy Week celebrations in Peru.

On Wednesday, locals carpet the streets with flower petals in advance of parades featuring images of the Virgin Mary and Saint John, but the real highlight takes place on Friday evening. At this time the image of Christ is borne on a huge litter covered in candles and white roses.

The sight of thousands of white candles moving slowly and solemnly through the streets from the Monastery of Santa Clara to the cathedral, followed by men and women dressed in mourning, serves as a very moving symbol of faith.

Cusco: If you are aiming for enjoying a rich traditional experience of Holy Week in a comfortable environment then Holy Week in Cusco, Peru, has some very interesting traditions. The bonus is the advantage of better tourist infrastructure and lodgings than those of other cities in Peru.

The procession of the Señor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes) is especially famous. During this parade a holy statue of Christ, said to have saved the city from an earthquake, tours the city’s churches to bless them while people climb up trees and hang off balconies to drop special red flowers on the statue.

For many, the most compelling reason to choose Cusco to celebrate Semana Santa in Peru is the Good Friday Feast. In Cusco, people only fast until noon on Good Friday and then enjoy a banquet of 12 traditional dishes.

Who says Holy Week is not a family trip? The idea of spending Spring Break on the beach sounds very enticing however, never as culturally rich as traveling to Peru to enjoy La Semana Santa.

Have you traveled to a Latin country for Semana Santa?

See the Diablada at the Oruro Carnival in Bolivia

As one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the Oruro Carnival in Bolivia (Carnaval de Oruro) is definitely one for your bucket list.  A feast for the eyes, this 2000-year-old religious festival culminates in a parade with over 28,000 dancers, 10,000 musicians, and 400,000 visitors. The best-known dance is the Diablada, or the Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils).

Oruro is an ancient mining town in the altiplano region of Bolivia. Although it was founded in 1606 by the Spanish, the area was already populated by the Aymara and Quechua people.

The region, called Jururu or Uru Uru, was a religious pilgrimage site for the Andean world. Pilgrims visited in order to contact deities called Wak’as. They included the toad, lizard, viper, and condor, some of which continue to play a part in the Oruro carnival festivities.

Origins of the Carnival

One of the many parades at the Oruro Carnival

One of the many parades at the Oruro Carnival

As was common during Spanish colonialism, native Hispanic culture and rituals were banned or, as happened with Oruro carnival, were altered to incorporate Catholic saints and other aspects of Christianity.

In the case of Oruro, the apparition of a Virgin Mary in a local silver mine in 1756 added to the Catholic component, and the Oruro carnival has since been held in honor of the Virgin of the Mineshaft, with important aspects of the carnival relating to the location of the mine.

The Diablada is a direct descendent of this amalgamation of the indigenous religion (Wari) and Catholicism.

According to one story, after the Virgin of the Mineshaft was made the patron of the Carnival, the indigenous miners were worried that this would anger their deity Supay and so they chose to honor him, as well. The Catholic priests had called Supay el Diablo, so the miners dressed as devils for the festivities.

Elements of the Diablada

The choreography and costumes of the Oruro Diablada are a mixture of both indigenous Andean religious presentations and Spanish religious theater, and the Diablada is unique in that it is believed to have held onto much of its pre-colonial artistry.

Originally accompanied by musicians playing the siku, the Diablada is now part of a full-on parade with marching bands and orchestras.

Highly stylized, the choreography tells the story of the confrontation between good and evil, as represented by the battle between Saint Michael and the Devil.

Masked, brightly-colored representations of angels and demons share the stage with the seven deadly sins, personified and eventually defeated. Interestingly, both Lucifer and Satan are represented, as are indigenous religious figures the Condor and the Bear.

The dance itself has the performers moving constantly, forming complicated shaped like spirals, S-shapes, and circles.

Visiting Oruro for Carnaval

carnaval-oruro-la-diablada-1When to Go

Although Carnaval celebrations go on for weeks, the most exciting events begin the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. In most cases hotels and hostels will require you to stay at least 3 nights from Friday to Monday, which will give you the chance to see the highlights of the Carnaval.

How to Get to The Oruro Carnival

A four-hour bus ride from La Paz will get you to Oruro easily, and during Carnaval there will be plenty of departures. You might also consider taking the train from Uyuni to Oruro if you are on an extended tour of Bolivia.

Where to Stay

You will find many different lodging options in Oruro, ranging from hostels with 1 bathroom for 30 people to nice hotels. If you speak good Spanish, you could even get a room in a private home—ads for rooms will show up all over town a few days before the festival, so if you want to arrive early you could check out this option.

In my opinion your best bet would be to book a hotel far in advance to make sure you get something nice. Try to book direct rather than through a tour agency in La Paz as some agencies unfortunately do not always deliver on their promises.

What to See at the Oruro Carnival

Obviously, you must see the Carnaval Oruro with the Diablada! Be sure to reserve yourself a seat along the parade route so you get a good view. Besides the parade, you will want to see the Santuario de Virgen de Socavón, where you will find very interesting museum exhibits on folklore, religion, and mining.

If you have extra time, visit the tiny Zoológico Andino to see Andean animals and then stop next door at the Museo National Antropológico to see a creepy collection of mummies and skulls. Don’t forget to visit the shops along Calle La Paz to pick up your souvenir diablada mask.

If you love Hispanic Carnivals you are going to appreciate Carnival de Oruro. Normally the festivity runs for about 10 days around Ash Wednesday every year.  At three hours from the capital La Paz, Oruro is considered the folklore capital of Bolivia and is worth a visit, whether during the carnival or the rest of the year.

Have you visited the Oruro Carnival? Tell us in the comments!