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In Bolivia, bless the priests also cars. After that, the owner on quite a show and continue to the shaman. Because two are better than one.


Claus Hecking

From Copacabana Claus Hecking reported

Claus Hecking

is the author for SPIEGEL ONLINE.

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Tuesday, 25.12.2018
07:54 PM

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The priest raises the arms out in front of the open hood of the rusty Chevrolet, the sign of the cross, murmurs a prayer. He dips a plastic rose in his Holy water bucket and pans on the hot engine block, and it hisses.

Then he walks around with garlands, gladioli and roses decorated the car, the generously distributed water wheels, bumper, seats. And, finally, the owner family: husband, wife, two children, the grandmother.

“Más!”, “more!”, calls the older woman. It stretches towards the man with the cowl, sweeps the Holy Wet on the head, arms, and legs, crossed. The five believers and the Padre to pose for a phone photo. Click, click, then the priest goes on to the next car waiting. The family brings out the sparkling wine and beer bottles. For part two of the Ritual.

The queue behind the Chevrolet fills the entire cobblestone square in front of the Basilica of the virgin of the Candelaria. Also today, dozens of car owners have come to Copacabana on lake Titicaca, the famous pilgrimage town of Bolivia at 3800 meters above sea level. “Bendición de Movilidades”, the almost daily blessing of the cars.

Photo gallery

Blessing for the dear child

For this ceremony they travelled to the after Copacabana. With their cars, trucks and micro buses. On curvy mountain roads full of potholes, from La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosí, in the neighbouring state of Peru or even Argentina. Because they are convinced that Without the blessing of the Catholic Church they had no luck with the purchased vehicle. And without the local shamans too, but more on this later.

Flowers, firecrackers and Fake champagne

Family Quispe from the vicinity of La Paz is still pretty far back in the queue. Time, the newly-acquired Used-Pick-up ready for the big Moment. Miguel climbs on the car, glued with Tesa, a gold-colored hat made out of cardboard. “Blessed in Copacabana” on it.

Lidia, his wife, decorated the Andes in the Pickup with paper garlands and chains made of trumpet flowers. The car jewelry you have just purchased at one of the stalls in front of the Basilica, together with a package of firecrackers and a large bottle of “champagne”, as the stamp dealer has touted the Cider.

“The car we bless, that we have no breakdowns and serious accidents,” says Miguel Quispe. Bolivia driver can assistance use on the many dirt or dilapidated roads, through wild mountain country. The only insurance that the state requires, which covers damage of up to 24,000 Bolivianos (3,000 Euro). But Quispe is certain: “The Holy virgin will protect us.”

Pagan-Catholic connection

The Holy virgin, the Virgen de Copacabana, in the snow-white Basilica in a Shrine. In 1580, the artist Francisco Tito Yupanqui, grandson of the last Inca ruler created the Statue. The night before the mother of God to him in his sleep appeared.

Since then, the figure can be attributed to always wonder; Bolivia declared the virgin to be the national patron Saint. In the middle of the 18. Century was built near the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro is a chapel with a replica of the Virgen de Copacabana. Soon, the settlement and the beach were named: Copacabana.

Long before the Spanish colonial rule in Copacabana indigenous Aymara and other indigenous peoples in South America were Andes region of livestock, such as llamas in pagan rituals to bless. In the course of the Christianization, the Catholic Church has taken over these traditions and adapted. And so bless you in Copacabana for some time cars.

Mother earth has a big thirst

For a small donation, the Church deserves the Ticket for the ceremony costs 10 Bolivianos (1,25 Euro). On the highest holidays in the beginning of February and the beginning of August, it comes to mass blessings of thousands of vehicles.

Once the priest is finished, it will be loud. The families Corks and bottle caps pop and make the car self again wet with Fake champagne and beer. “For Pachamama,” calls a man. The Pachamama, the mother earth, to be offered in the Andean region since time immemorial victims. You have great thirst. What is left, drink to the car owners themselves. Then you light the firecrackers. There is a crash, and stinks of sulfur on the Church square.

Many then go a few blocks to the Yatiris, the shaman of the Aymara. Because double-blessed holds up better. The Yatiris call Pachamama and the Achachilas, the mountain gods of the Aymara. Instead of Holy water tight to a promise, let incense smoke and hold Coca leaves in the four cardinal directions. But one thing in Common with the ceremony in the Basilica there are: the alcohol is also sacrificed when shamans often generous and drunk.

The consequences of the binge for the accident figures of Copacabana is not known.

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