Cholitas Lucha-libre-style wrestling! What’s a better subject matter for a pattern than tough pig-tailed women wrestling?? More on that later. First, llama fetuses.
La Paz was totally insane. In the best way possible. Example #1 are the llama fetuses hanging in the Witch’s Market in town. People hire witches to make offerings to bring love, luck, or wealth (and sometimes even black magic). It’s said that before every new construction, an offering will be made to ensure the safety of the construction workers and bring good luck to the property. Many times they’ll use herbs, statues, a llama fetus, or even the sacrifice of a live animal.
You can even buy “love potions” at the Witch’s Market!
The juice stands were AMAZING. Heaps and heaps of fresh fruit and nice (photobombing) ladies to make you juice on demand! Plus the fact that a bag (love that it comes in a bag, ha!) of juice is less than a dollar doesn’t hurt either! Sidenote: of course in Bolivia there would be a bikini-clad lady on a fruit juice menu!
Another crazy and interesting facet of La Paz is San Pedro prison. It’s mostly self-run – there are only about 4 to 6 guards there at any one time, and are supposedly very easily bribed by prisoners. There’s an entire democratic system inside the prison, with a president elected for each section of the prison, and rules to live by. Rent is not free inside the prison – you have to pay money depending on where you stay. The rich ex-politicians and current drug dealers reside in the fanciest part of the prison, where they have their own apartment complete with flat screens, servants, etc. There’s even an entire cocaine making business inside, with deliveries in and out all the time (sometimes they just throw a little bag out onto the street to a waiting partner). I could go on and on about this place – just read the wiki article.
We wanted to do the Red Cap Walking Tour (do it if you get to La Paz, it’s awesome!), so we met at San Pedro square, and got there twenty minutes early. A barefoot guy walks up to us and says that he’s there to help Red Cap get people together for the tour. He starts to talk to us about the square, the neighboring San Pedro prison, and casually mentions that he’s an inmate there out on day leave! Come to find out, his name is Dave and he’s from the States. He was arrested and thrown in prison about 8 years ago for trying to traffic a bunch of cocaine out of the country in empty beer bottles. He’s let out of the prison during daylight hours, and spends his time trying to sell cocaine to tourists. (Don’t worry, Mom, we said no thanks!)
La Paz has an impressive system of cable cars called the Teleferico. It runs up and down from El Alto, which sits above the basin of La Paz. El Alto is the highest city in the world (according to Wikipedia, that is!) with an elevation of 13,615 feet. It has the world’s largest flea market each Sunday, and we were lucky enough to be taken there with the owner of our hostel, because otherwise we totally would have gotten lost in the crazy hustle and bustle.
We rode the Teleferico over a sprawling cemetary.
We headed up to El Alto, where the Cholitas wrestling takes place, and saw this teenager-powered ferris wheel! He just climbs up, holds onto a bar of the wheel, rides it down, and keeps it up until it’s going at a good clip. Stopping the thing is the same, albeit super dangerous, method.
So, the wrestling Cholitas totally kicked ass! Granted, it was gimmicky, but who cares? They climbed on the ropes, did high flying kicks, tackled each other, and got the entire crowd into it.