Huge sculptures of the mischievous cucumber, the cheerful Andean kusillo or jester, the elegant cholita and the colorful ch’uta, the emblematic characters of the Carnival of La Paz, made with recycled materials, shine on the main avenue of this Bolivian city on the occasion of this festivity.
Pieces of iron, wires, metal ropes, and even cloth scraps collected by the workers’ crews of the Municipal Secretariat of Public Infrastructure of La Paz were used to make these sculptures.
With 3.50 meters high, each figure has been placed in different points of the Paseo de El Prado, the main avenue that crosses the center of La Paz, attracting the attention of passers-by who did not hesitate to stop, even in spite of the rain, to Take pictures next to the sculptures.
In the elaboration of each one, between 300 and 400 kilos of disused material were used, which municipal workers collect daily between remains of buildings and debris left by people on the street, in addition to the cleaning of sinks, he explained to Efe the Secretary of Public Infrastructure, Rodrigo Soliz.
According to the official, it is an initiative that began a few years ago with the elaboration of cucumber, because it is “the maximum representation of the La Paz carnival”, and then they added the ch’uta, the cholita and the novelty this year is the kusillo.
“These are the purely La Paz characters that give joy to the carnival,” said Soliz.
In addition to accompanying the festivities, this initiative seeks to raise awareness among people to celebrate with moderation and responsibility and ask them to “put the garbage in its place,” added the secretary.
WHO ARE THE CHARACTERS?
Dressed in a mask and a kind of jumpsuit with lace that is usually bicolor, the cucumber reflects urban joy and debauchery during the La Paz carnival.
This centenary character usually carries a backpack with mixture and streamer that he throws while he walks the streets of La Paz during the street parades that are organized between Saturday and Tuesday of Carnival.
He is the undisputed king of the celebration, because his “burial” weeks before the carnival marks the beginning of the party in La Paz, which also dismisses the festivities with a symbolic burial of this character on Temptation Sunday.
The ch’uta and the cholita introduce Aymara customs at the party, such as thanks to the Pachamama or Mother Earth for their fruits, a tradition rooted in western Bolivia.
The ch’uta wears bulging pants at the hips, shirt, short jacket, hat and a mask, and moves with a rhythmic jog, making his partner incessantly spin, which can be one or two cholitas, the emblematic Aymara women Bolivians who also wear their best clothes at the carnival.
The kusillo is a character from the Andean culture similar to a harlequin or a jester who dances at his own pace and includes pirouettes in his choreography.
NOT ONLY IN CARNIVAL
The use of recycled material to make decorative structures is not restricted to carnival, since the Municipal Secretariat of Public Infrastructure annually produces huge Christmas trees with different objects since 2013, according to Soliz.
PET plastic bottles, compact discs, pieces of wood, glass bottles, scrap metal and even disused traffic lights have been used in these trees that shine at Christmas time in La Paz.
They have also produced an iron scrap nativity scene with all its characters: the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, the baby Jesus, the Magi, the ox, the mule, the sheep and llamas.
In July, when the revolution in La Paz against the Spanish colony is remembered, this municipal office installs gigantic teas, which are the symbol of freedom, in different parts of the city.
“We have been growing, we have been learning with all colleagues how to do these things,” said Soliz.