I was heading into zona Sur to get some life admin done when the minibus I was on took a weird route. I looked up and noticed that a huge stage was being erected in the middle of the street in Mallasa. After messaging around I was told that today was the Cholita Paceña Mallasa 2018. Cholitas are famous in Bolivia for their big dresses and hats and are prominent throughout the city. If you want to know more the BBC can tell you much better than I could ever. But this seems more than just a beauty contest and representatives from all over the region, including Jupapina, where taking part.

Pippa my flat mate from the Greenhouse, the Belgium couple and Sharon and her 10 year old son John form the US jumped on one of the last busses of the evening and headed up to Mallasa. I thought it was going to be heaving and although the whole street was blocked off there was plenty of space.

Kids were running up and down the street, playing football, riding bikes, scooters, tag etc. This was one of my favourite things as whatever you go in the world children are more interested in playing than watching the main event.

There was a crowd around the stage who all had balloons and a guy onstage who was singing to a backing track in Spanish. This ended up going on for about 40 minutes and we decided to get some beers from a local shop before we realised that we were the only people drinking. We also realised that when we were whooping everyone else was politely clapping and waving their balloons. A nice man gave us some balloons to blow up but maybe that was to stop is whooping.

We spotted some young men and women in official dress and they headed to the stage. After the man finally stopped singing some minor Bolivian celebrities, a locals words not mine, we were treated to some traditional Bolivian dancing.

After the dancing finished the contest began and each contestant was introduced and partook in some traditional dancing.

This year we were told there were a lot of contestants.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect but more and more contestants came onto the stage.

It was at this point that I realised how the “take multiple pictures” function worked on my camera. I accidentally ended up takin around 300 photos so you can feel lucky that I deleted the majority of them.

After all the Cholitas had made it on stage and given their initial dance they were interviewed and asked challenging questions. Obviously this was all in Spanish and my knowledge was limited as to what was going on.

Our attention turned away from the Cholitas and more towards the food which was being cooked with a lot of fire. After being told the food was safe we decided to give cow heart a try. It’s a delicacy in these parts and although al little tough was really tasty. The spicy sauce that accompanied the dish was especially delicious.

As the temperature dropped and the lack of understanding continued we decided to call it a night but I was very happy to have Ben able to experience this local event. It was at this point I started to realise that staying in one place enables you to get to know it much better and you have a very different experience.


And street sign