A few weekends ago was the annual parade in Guayatá, in the Tenza valley. Different community groups from all over the region field floats that they design and build, and a winner is announced at the end for best float. My wife's ecotourism project collaborated on a shared float with the four other projects currently being funded by the European Union in the Tenza valley. Just before the parade we dropped by as all the different project teams worked together on the float. As you can see, it consisted of typical fruits in typical baskets from the Tenza valley,
and the float was fringed with photos showing each of fifteen towns' special attractions.
For instance, Sutatenza prides itself on its basketry
while Chinavita touts its special corn cakes and milk curd.
The float also had burlap bags of green coffee, and live coffee seedlings to promote the local and organic specialty coffee projects.
It was difficult maneuvering the finished float onto the road, and I can't even imagine how the ride must have been over potholed mud to get to the town of Guayata!
We zipped ahead of the float in our car, and arrived to a town throbbing with activity, and float-induced traffic jams!
Everyone in Guayata lets loose on the festival weekend. Even this cow got a corn treat.
These chickens were not as spoiled. They were just waiting to be raffled.
Finally the parade started, with lots of eccentric floats. There was a reconstruction of the historic event that started the Colombian fight for independence.
The war of independence lasted 10 years, and ended in Bolivar's triumphant battle at the Bridge of Boyaca.
Bolivar was of course accompanied by his cavalry.
There were many floats about the importance of recycling (in which the Tenza valley is a national leader). In this float we see organic materials, plastic, and metal separated.
Next was a float from the local public health clinic.
I forget which town this next float came from, but it recreates Barranquilla's famous Carnival, with dancing women and lots of strange costumes.
The town of Somondoco didn't do a float but rather a series of banners showing the attractions of their town--nature, religious icons and celebrations, good food, etc.--followed by people in traditional outfits.
Another group did up a Flintstones mockup.
The firefighters built a cool dragon that spit fire, and spurted water onto onlookers.
The town of Guateque's float had a sort of bizarre-looking Muisca Indian, followed by more people in traditional costumes.
This next float comes from the Guayata high school, which participates in the parade but is banned from the competition for best float, because they have an essentially unlimited labor supply and were always winning the competition. This entire float, as well as the kids' outfits, are made entirely from recycled materials, mainly pop bottles.
A float from Sotaquira also used recycled materials, this time egg cartons, to make an alligator. I believe they were pitching for ecotourism attractions in their area, which presumably include gators.
My wife's group's float turned out well, complete with an artisan weaving baskets, a farmer in traditional garb, and two half-naked princesses.
There was a float with a kid charming a snake, which was supposed to symbolize our living in harmony with nature.
A float from one of Guayata's neighborhoods celebrated traditional clothing of the region, with a huge slipper.
I'm not sure how Shrek and his family got in the parade.
This chicken is made entirely from corn husks of different hues. Pretty amazing. The float was put forth by the center for old folks in Guayata, and was followed by a bunch of seniors playing drums and dancing with a sign vindicating their capabilities and stressing the importance of learning from the elderly.
The last float, and by far my favorite, was from a rural area near Guayata where people are recuperating the ancient traditions of working with sisal.
There was a donkey carrying fresh-cut leaves from the sisal agave plant,
followed by a guy who tears strips off of the edges of the leaves and runs them through two knives facing each other so as to strip the fiber from the pulp of the leaf. You can see green fibers drying on the float in front of him.
Once the fibers have dried for a few days, they are twisted to make rope.
And from that rope you can make all sorts of lovely clothes and other artisan goods.
The sisal float also had a few goats bringing up the rear, just for good measure.