Saturday, 26 January 2013

The collective spirit of the Tiwanaku people- our review

BBC 4 programme
Available on iplayer - click here to watch this programme.

I enjoyed the programme very much, I expected it to be educational and even though I already knew something about these ancient peoples of my country there was plenty that I learned about them.

What I really liked was that Dr Cooper started the programme explaining about how the civilization began, from a very small group of communities and into massive collective community that spans several modern-day countries. While it was a very sophisticated society, there were some shocking aspects- such as human sacrifice and the forced-shaping of their skulls to give their nobility their distinctive elongated heads. My husband seemed quite happy to find out how important the production of beer was to the Tiwanaku.

While watching the episode I realised how many traditions have been kept intact from this old civilisation in the region of Lake Titicaca and across the Aymara-speaking region.

There is still plenty to see at the site of Tiwanku in Bolivia today and I have fond memories of my school trips to the site. Though I must admit I didn’t enjoy my last visit to the September Solstice festival over 10 years ago: it was extremely cold and too much drinking among people for my liking- though this has been a tradition that has been part of the region for so long.

I prefer to visit the site during the day and combine it with a trip to Lake Titicaca. I have tried to replicate that in a HighLives experience we have now introduced that works as a two-day extension if you are visiting Bolivia in the future. This tour is unique to HighLives and we have put it together to allow the ancient culture of the area to be seen up close. Learn more about our new extension here.

If you have not seen the programme yet I encourage you to do so for another few days on BBC iplayer. I am looking forward to the next episode on Colombia.

Finally, I must share with you one more legacy from the Tiwanaku people that is still a big part of Bolivian life: a good party, with plenty of food, drinks and dancing. The biggest fiesta each year in the country is the Oruro Carnival, which is only a few weeks away.  The Guardian newspaper recently wrote about this festival here.
HighLives will be assisting with the yearly fundraiser that the charity Friends of Bolivia puts together in London, to celebrate Carnival, Bolivia-style. You are very welcome to join us.

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