Carnaval is about five weeks away, but all throughout the city of Cochabamba, teens and university students are gearing up with the annual water balloon tradition. It also takes place in other cities in Bolivia. Groups of young people buy water balloons from enterprising vendors and use them for target practice. Young men only usually target young women. Young children usually target anyone. However, their aims are not very well refined and innocent bystanders are usually clocked without any hint of apology.
Today, I jumped in a cab and the driver was obviously still in a bad mood. We drove up Pando street near the Recoleta and saw several groups of teenagers armed with a bag of water balloons, and upon seeing them the taxi driver mumbled something under his breath. “They hit me last night,” the cabbie said pointing at his upper lip. He then proceeded to tell me that the had stopped his cab and beat the living daylights out of one of them. After his story, he pulled out his tire iron showing how he intends to fight back.