There are a few peculiarities that we observed in Copacabana, but nowhere else! Every day, but especially on Sunday, cars, taxis, busses, etc … line up in front of the gigantic Cathedral to receive a blessing by the priest, which should keep both car and driver safe from accidents. People actually come from far away to receive this “Benedicion de Movilidades”, or as an American tourist put it, “car bless day”.
This ceremony is quite a spectacle. First, the vehicle is thoroughly washed and then decorated with real flowers, plastic garlands and colorful ribbons. The stalls to buy the decorum are conveniently lined up around the plaza. The vendors are very skilled in applying it in no time. Next beer or sparkling wine is strayed all over it and some liquid from a tiny bottle is put on each tire, then pedals of flowers are thrown all over it and finally crackers are placed next to each tire, making everybody duck when they explode. Now it is time for the priest: he gives a little speech to the family assembled and then blesses the vehicle by walking around it, spraying water with what looks like a giant rose onto the car. Last the family itself is blessed by everybody touching the very giant rose which the priest used for blessing the car.
Another oddity we noticed was that we encountered a lot of people with one eye bandaged. These sightings already began in Puno. When waiting at the border to get our passport stamped it seemed a mass movement. So our initial guess was that a certain eye surgery is far cheaper in Bolivia than in Peru, but when we saw even more of these newly operated persons in the streets of Copacabana, we asked the senor where we had our daily fruit juice. Well, people from both sides of the border flock to town because this operation is done for free by some of the 2.000 Cuban doctors who have been sent to Bolivia by Fidel Castro to support the ailing health system.