Learn, Travel

WALKING TOUR IN LA PAZ

Here we are at our beloved walking tour, did with Red Cap. Very good indeed, and as they live to say about themselves, absolutely sexy.
After San Pedro Prison, that left us astonished, we go check out Rodriguez Market. Apparently it’s the biggest in South America (and with Cochabamba it makes two of them). 40 Quadras (a quadra is 100 mt) at its maximum, during the weekend. Here we learn a very important lesson. You do not negotiate about food price, it’s rude. While the ordinary is asking for a llapa, an extra, a fruit more, few grams more. “Caserita mi llapita” those are the magic words. Casera is the stalls lady. They are the soul of the market, they know everything about everyone because you go to casera to buy onions and be listened. They are greengrocers and psychologist.
They are the food secrets keeper, such as what’s the best potato, among the tens of types, for each recipe. Most of them have been created by Incas or even before, to it to every climate of the empire. There is even one kind that once dried can be used after 30 years, just add some water.
Although here the secret ingredient is “intentionality”. Or better, the energy and love poured in a recipe that make the outcome very different from just the sum of its ingredients. But that we have always known (thank you mums, dads and grannys).
Not far from Rodriguez there is the witches market. It’s not so different from the one in Cochabamba, with its sugar figures embodying desires, and its dry lama fetuses, died for natural causes, for the Pacha Mama rituals. Despite the name we find out that rituals are led by wizards or sciamans. To be one you have to die thunderstruck and reborn. In Bolivia there are 7 official, one of them is the personal sciaman of Presidente Morales.
We get to know about a freaking urban legend. baby lamas are used to propitiate a new building, but those of small dimensions. What is to be sacrificed before building a skyscraper or a bridge? Yes, exactly what you are thinking. They say that asked by builders, sciamans use to dress up as homeless and hang out with them, sharing alcohol and cigarettes. Once they find someone who has nothing to lose or would like to die, they invite him to a party. When he’s completely drunk and fall asleep he is simply buried inside the building foundation.
For the skepticals there’s a movie “the cemetery of elephants” and a book “Borracho estaba pero me acuerdo”.
Next stop San Francis Cathedral, built on the indigenous part of the colonial La Paz. It was a symbol, a bridge between two cultures. And such aspect is embodied in the indigenous iconography on its facade.
For instance the Oxen, or Green Man, the sciaman, with his mouth full of coca leaves. Or the female figure giving birth to flowers, which is the Pacha Mama, fertility goddess. Another oddity is the presence of many mirrors. Natives believed everybody has a spirit or a soul and that it leaves the body in case of traumas. His absence can bring to serious diseases or even to death. So the Spanish convinced the natives that the the spirits left the bodies to go inside the mirrors. For this reason natives used to spend a lot of time inside the church to stay close to their souls.
We end the tour at the government palace, a huge skyscraper with three flags on it. Then Bolivian, the Whipala and a blue one, representing the Navy. Bolivia actually has no access to the sea, despite the international efforts of Morales, so that its navy is in Titicaca lake. Bolivia is a strong country fighting to overcome its fragilities and past prejudices. For this reason on the congress palace there’s a clock going backward. No more time for imperialism or colonialism, it’s the Time of the South.

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