In Puno, on Lake Titicaca, we arrived during the festival of the candles. We didn't see one candle being celebrated, but we did see tens of thousands of people parade through the town for about 20 hours non-stop. It was fun at first, but when you can hear trombones and drums outside your hotel window at 4am in the morning, the novelty soon wears off.
We're now in Sucre, Bolivia. It's a beautiful colonial city of whitewashed buildings with terracotta roofs. That said, we haven't been able to properly explore or take the usual touristy snaps because the latest festival is more treacherous than ever.
We walked through the picturesque square and came out soaking. One kid even did an execution-style close-range popping of a water bomb over Stacey's head. Some travellers in our hostel armed up to take revenge, but came back very wet indeed. It seems that the only thing better than soaking a passer-by is soaking a passer-by who is also a Gringo.
At first the unusual nature of the whole affair was quite entertaining, but around about the fifth time we were sent sprinting down the street closely pursued by half a dozen water pistol-toting drunk trombone players, it grew somewhat tiresome.
It has become a little bit like one of those zombie apocalypse movies. After grabbing some tea in a pub last night, we had to make a dash home. There were marauding groups of (now drunk) dancers and musicians everywhere, all armed up with agua. We spotted a group heading our way, so made a right turn down another street, only to find another gang heading our way. Cornered, with those dreaded drums of saturation getting ever nearer, we feared the worst, but escaped with moments to spare down a side alley.
Today was no better. We walked to a viewpoint, away from the mayhem of the water fight, where we enjoyed serene lunch. Walking back, we turned down a quiet residential street, only to find a boy, who can't have been older than eight, armed with a water gun almost as big as him. There was a momentary Wild West-style stand-off, before we realised we were unarmed. We smiled and held our hands up, hoping this may appease him, but it didn't. The little shit emptied out his entire water reserve on us, laughing as he did so. He even blasted Stacey square in the face. They seem to particularly like soaking Stacey.
As a child, this festival must be better than Christmas, New Year and Easter put together:
“Here you go young Pablo, this is your needlessly large water gun, here are 200 water bombs. Now go out and play in the street for the next 4 days. Don't worry if you soak random tourists who are unarmed and minding their own business and may well have expensive electrical items in their bags, for the next few days, it's socially acceptable and they just have to take it!”
We have our tactics though. On the way back to the hostel this afternoon we eyed up a teenager armed with some water bombs. He saw us, shouted up to his mate in the first floor window, who prepared to unleash a watery hell on the two Gringos passing below. But we took cover, behind a middle aged local woman who was carrying her shopping and, by the looks of her Barnet, had just been to the salon. He didn't dare attack us, for fear of hitting the Señora. As we reached the safety of our hostel I turned and stuck my backside at the lads. VICTORY!