On Saturday 8 November, over 250 attendees packed out Santa Marta’s ‘Casa Comunal’, for an afternoon that marked the village’s second successful eco-festival. The festival was organised by ICS volunteers with a view to increasing awareness of the many uses, or indeed, reuses of Basura (rubbish).

Rachel demonstrated her growing Spanish language skills whilst opening the show, explaining its objective to the crowd. Facilitator Ana Maria then elaborated on the event’s purpose, before handing over to Manuel, a presenter from the local station Radio Victoria, and MC for the afternoon. Manuel kept the crowd engaged between acts with giveaways of items made by volunteers over the preceding weeks, including a miniature recycled cardboard house made by Mario. 

The first act was a dance (or baile) performed by Las Chicas Fantasticas, featuring my host sister Julisa and two of her school friends. Next up were Lorena and Wendi, modelling dresses made from recycled bags and packaging.

Daisy then treated the crowd to a performance of her original composition “Ya Está” – which translates to “That’s Enough” – accompanied by her guitar. 

Vanessa then took to the stage in a dress fashioned from bleach packets, before Rachel had the crowd in hysterics with her comical, flamboyant show of a dress made from plastic bags, complete with a waistcoat made from packaging and a golden (cardboard) crown. 

The second dance, Ranchero Rock, had a theatrical element which kept the laughter going. Team leader Pedro played a bawdy partygoer, who harassed and then shot down the other revelers at the disco – all of whom wore recycled costumes, and miraculously recovered to join him for a final dance. The crowd enjoyed the spectacle so much that there were calls for an encore, to which the volunteers obliged.

The last volunteers to take to the catwalk were Chris and Cruz, sporting a cap, waistcoat and cardboard trousers, and a shift dress complete with a waist belt respectively – all, of course, made from basura.

There was a final performance to close the show – choreographed exclusively for the event by Meryl and I at the request of Lorena, Vanessa and Velki, who were all keen on learning an Indian dance. The routine, set to Punjabi MC’s “Jogi”, featured elements of traditional Punjabi folk dance (Bhangra), alongside some mainstream Indian steps (Bollywood). Given my Punjabi background, this was an excellent way to engage in cultural exchange with the national volunteers. 

Overall, the second eco-festival was a resounding success, which entertained the people of Santa Marta whilst also delivering an important message about recycling.

Written by ICS volunteer Manisha Bains