2015 Tarija Wine and Art festival (Encuentro del Arte y El Vino)
Every year the small village of Valle de la Concepción, just a 40 min drive from the center of Tarija, holds an annual Grape, Wine and Art Festival.
We actually had the pleasure to live in this little town for more than a year. The celebration is held just after the grape harvest and places a heavy emphasis on art. People gather from all over the area, and even other parts of Bolivia to enjoy the local food, music and dancing in the newly designed and renovated plaza, and a huge display of art from local artists.
Held around the 15th of March, we went with our friends on Sunday of the festival - the last day of activities. We had to park nearly a kilometer outside of this little town that usually only encounters the regular passer-bys and locals. It was crowded.
Making our way through the thick crowd (makes you feel like you're at a theme park) the sides of the road were lined with vendors of all kinds as we walked towards the plaza.
Everything from the little cangrejitos (small crab like things - local dish), other typical foods, beer and wine of course, umbrellas, hats, toys, ice cream, balloons, you name it.
The festivities in Bolivia are always so colorful and visually stimulating, just so much to see in every direction you turn. So packed wth people, we actually were separated from the people we came with just as we were walking to the center. We looked for them, but as packed as it was, we had no luck and were sure we would run into them later.
As soon as we made it down to the center plaza, we started running into our friends from the town and made some new friends with other local expats. I was disappointed to learn the art was only on display Friday and Saturday and we had missed it:( There were a few traveling artists with their homemade jewelry and other trinkets that you frequently see in the Tarija plazas at night.
My kids were so happy to run into all their friends. We ran into our previous neighbors that loaded the kids down with grapes, a 12 year old friend we knew that hadn't seen my baby since she was about 6 months (2 at the time of the show) and he had to pick her up and hold her and say hi (kids here are soo sweet).
When it was time to get something to eat we decided to give our business to a friend an old neighbor, plus I know how she stores and prepares her food - very clean and delicious. We enjoyed Sopa de Arroz and Picante Pollo.
We shared many hugs with old friends, were able to visit the new baby of our friend and best of all the kids got to play with their best friends. Plus, my heart was swollen for love to see the little 3 year old boy who practically spent a whole year at our house and I adored him like he was my own. We missed him and his big brother - such great kids, and it was nice to see the little boy still remembered us well and begged to leave with us to stay night (had been about 4 months since he had seen us).
The time was getting close to 5 o'clock, it gets dark just after 6, and this particular festival is pretty well known for people getting too drunk and it makes the road back to Tarija dangerous at night. We walked to the plaza to try to find our friends and it worked out perfectly, we ran right into them by the plaza and we made our way back through the thick crowd to the car parked outside of town.
The day brought back so many memories to us of the little town where we first arrived without hardly any Spanish and created our new life. Can't wait until the next visit.