By Andrea Ramirez, KF16, El Salvador.

One of the awesome bands during the Independence Day Parade in San Miguel

Last Thursday, September 15th, we celebrated Independence day here in El Salvador. However, El Salvador was not alone in the celebrations as Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua also had their own festivities on that very same day.  It was a colorful day, and I want to share a bit of the fun show that I got to enjoy here in San Miguel.

I woke up bright and early on the 15th to get ready for the celebration. In San Miguel the celebration involves a parade that lasts from about 8 am till 2 or 3 pm. The parade is put out by the many schools in town, which have their own band, beauty queen, and “cachiporras.” In prior years the cachiporras were the main attraction. They are young girls (usually high school age) dressed in colorful costumes with really reaaaaally short skirts, and a truncheon in hand. Now, they  have lengthened the skirts, or wear shorts instead. This year some schools opted for a less “traditional” approach, and their cachiporras used traditional Salvadorean costumes instead of the sexier ones. The cachiporras head the parade for each of their respective shcools, and perform a dance routine in front of the judges (including the city’s Mayor). On September 30th, the schools with the best cachiporras and the best bands get to perform at a show in the city’s soccer stadium.

Student playing the drum during the parade - hard work under that sun!

Cachiporras during the parade

Cachiporras in pretty costumes during the parade

Less traditional cachiporras wearing traditional Salvadorean costumes

Beauty queens - it was scorching hot!

Cachiporra in action!

I made it to the parade by 9 am with two friends who graciously agreed to come with me. San Miguel is an incredibly hot town, so soon after we got there we had to get hats that were sold on the street to help us cope with the sun. They were a sweet deal at $1 each!

For me, the main attraction were not the cachiporras, but the bands! As the day goes on, the bands/schools get better. So the longer you hang around, the better the show gets. These kids practice for months after school in order to learn their instrument for the parade. Although they are not taught to read music (only memorize their performance), they do such an awesome job under the scorching heat. I could only deal with the sun until about 1 pm, and even managed to get home with a pretty good tan!

In particular, I loved this one band that played the soundtrack for movies such as ‘Dirty Dancing’ and even the GaGa song ‘Just Dance.’ I tried to capture their talent on this clip.

Although no BBQ and no fireworks were part of the program, I had a blast on that day here in San Miguel. I am glad I was there to witness this important celebration, and got to share it with some great people.

Andrea Ramirez is a Kiva Fellow serving in El Salvador with Fundacion Campo, Kiva’s newest Field Partner in El Salvador. She loves saying ‘cachiporras’ almost as much as loves the festive spirit of El Salvador. To learn more about Fundacion Campo and their awesome clients, please visit their Partner page, join our newly created lending team, or make a loan to one of their clients on Kiva.


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