Even though Bolivia has no ocean, they’re completely enamoured with the idea. Everyone from young to old feels passionate about the need for access to the sea. Bolivia once connected to the Pacific ocean between Chile and Peru, but lost the land over a century ago in The War of the Pacific. However, Bolivians are still not ready to accept the result, and feel it is a great injustice that they don’t have the land that was theirs when “their country was born”. I’ve become completely fascinated with this event, and took time this past week to do some digging into the history of this country that I currently call my home.
Boats are definitely the theme of the day! Everything from giant boats on top of cars with oceans of blue tarp to teenage boys with paper sailboat hats.
Yearly Celebrations for Day of the Sea
Day of the Sea is celebrated on March 23, commemorating the day of the Battle of Topater (the first battle in the War of the Pacific) in 1879. The Bolivians were trying to defend the town of Calama from Chile. It was in the battle that Colonel Eduardo Aboroa died, making him into a national hero. You can still see streets named after him in every big city in Bolivia, and one of the main squares in La Paz is also name Aboroa. Every year on this date (or at least 3 full days this year in Sucre), the whole town is excited. Thousands of people come out to the main square to watch the spectacle. Politicians come and speak about important issues on a stage in front of hundreds of flags. Every marching band in town shows up in blue to navigate through the central streets. School children with hand-made signs march through town in blue to show their support. Music videos are made about the sea and shown to spectators who sit for hours watching them on the big screen – nodding along and cheering in agreement whenever someone states (or sings) about Bolivia needing the sea. Everyone in the city shows up with pride to share their support in the need for Bolivia to regain access to the Pacific Ocean.
Left: Aw, what a cutie in his little sailor costume! Right: Boris and Julie found me these great paper flags with the Bolivian naval flag – yay parades!