Aymara New Year

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June 21st 2007
Published: June 21st 2007
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I met up with some friends from Cochabamba in La Paz to celebrate the New Year of the Aymara (aka Winter Solstice). This is a celebration of the winter solstice/shortest day of the year/new year. It was freezing, it was dark, it was crowded, and I´m pretty sure that everyone had a great time. I know I did.

We arrived from La Paz around 7 at night, got the last room in a hotel (2 single beds for 7 people...we weren´t planning on sleeping much) and then headed out into the night. We grabbed some food (cow heart and potatos in peanut sauce, mmmm...) and then went to join the growing crowd in the main plaza of the town, where there was a free concert happening. We started off the evening sitting in a tent and drinking te con te (a mixture of singani and hot tea) and once we were warmed up (inside and out) we joined the party once again. Huge circles of people formed and everyone was dancing together, enjoying the music. There was an amazing vibe in the air, with so many people from so many places in the world all coming together on a freezing winters night to celebrate the New Year.

We all danced until about 4 in the morning when everyone moved to the temple to wait for the sun to come up. The wait was painfully long, and freezing, but as the sun came up everyone raised their hands into the air to catch the first rays, and the moment was beautiful and magical.

The party continued after the sun came up with more drums and flags and dancing. I returned to the town and had a little nap. Everyone came back a few hours later and we all went to the plaza once again where parades were starting in the streets. After watching for a while we decided it was time to return to La Paz.

All in all, it was a long, crazy, and amazing night. I was so glad to have been there and with great people.

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