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Latin America 2005

Journal 4

March 18, 2005

Today has been perhaps the most culturally rich day I've experienced this whole semester. In the morning we plunged deeper into the Chaco from our residence in Charagua. Unlike yesterday's bus which was too long and too low to handle the bumps and mudpits of the road, today´s bus and driver were ready for the challenge. We made good time to a Guarani Community about 120 kilometers from the Paraguayan border. The community captain greeted us as we got off the bus and he came and went with us the rest of our time in the village, informing us of important town history and acting as a representative of the town. As various Guarani instructed us on the nearby national park that they manage and recent Guarani history and political structure; they used native Guarani language despite being fluent in Spanish. This is apparently a way to maintain their cultural identity within the greater Bolivian culture. Most exciting was the procession and dance performed to represent the story of a feast. Dancers came with blue and purple face paint and there were also three masked characters. The party was eventually broken up by the pig, a man that rolled in a mud puddle and attempted to muddy everyone else. After our ride back to Charagua, we were invited to see a museum on Guarani culture. The curator, a Castellano, was very knowledgeable and and willing to share all he knew. Unfortunately, I was too tired and hungry to learn all that he had to offer. After supper the dance troop that performed last night demonstrated a few more dances traditional to the Chaco. The costumes they wore were colorful and exciting to watch as they stomped and twirled.

Journal by Josh Kautz

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