We’re at the end of our three month stay in Bolivia: one of the most incredible periods in our lives. In the past 91 days, we’ve seen more amazing places and done more exciting things than I could ever have anticipated. It’s been an experience that we’ll never forget
We went up for the Lucha Libre, and returned to experience the gigantic market which takes place every Thursday and Sunday. Anything you can imagine is on sale here. It might be easier to list the things you can’t buy in El Alto’s market: javelins, circus elephants, wine bottles filled with rat heads, and midget fetish porn. That’s it, and actually, I’m not so sure on that last one.
In March of 2011, while we were in Buenos Aires, we read about a mega-landslide in La Paz, which destroyed 400 homes and displaced 5000 people. But we didn’t pay attention to the name of the neighborhood. So when we decided on a whim to explore Pampahasi, found high on the eastern side of La Paz, we were stunned to find a road that simply dropped off into nothingness. Houses ripped into two and a vast cliff of mud and sand dropping precipitously to the field below.
If you’re looking for a quick and incredibly cheap lunch in small, cramped quarters, you can’t go wrong at the the gleaming new Mercado Lanza near the Iglesia de San Francisco. With hundreds of stalls serving food and juices, you’ll definitely find something appetizing. Just don’t be squeamish about sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.
Masks are an essential part of Bolivian celebrations, allowing dancers to adopt the personalities which populate the country’s myths and legends. Demons, dragons and angels join representations of real-world creatures like bears and beavers.
La Paz has a number of intriguing museums, including one dedicated to the unfairly maligned coca leaf, and another which takes a look at the War of the Pacific, when Bolivia lost its ocean access to Chile. Though we’re normally big on museums, we were constantly distracted by the bustling street markets, and never made it to most of La Paz’s. But we dared not skip out on the Museo de Etnografía y Folklore, near Plaza Murillo.
One of the most famous prisons in the world is the inmate-run San Pedro, smack in the center of La Paz. Yep, I said “inmate-run”. Authorities guard the gates, but within the walls of the block-sized facility, the prisoners run the operations.
About 40 minutes south of La Paz, a bizarre landscape of eroded rock and clay takes shape. Known as the Valle de la Luna, the jagged hills and crags seem to belong in a science fiction film, and not so near a major city. A small park allows visitors to explore the area from within.
We recently attended the famous Lucha Libre at a sports facility in El Alto. Bolivians are wild for wrestling. Posters of famous American wrestlers are everywhere, and you can’t go a block in La Paz without seeing seeing it on a curbside television set. Bolivia doesn’t have a professional league on the same level as the USA’s WWE, but El Alto’s Sunday afternoon Lucha Libre makes a solid substitute.