MESSAGE: Bolivia *Videos*
Bolivia, or as I call it: “Mind-blowing Bolivia,” is an intriguing country. Unfortunately, my time here was cut short so I regrettably only had one week in this fascinating country. It was a good thing that I was able to pack a lot in!
Here’re my 7 highlights of a whirlwind trip:
MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Street Parades. Bolivians love a fiesta, and a parade is just one more reason to party! During my visit to La Paz, it seemed as though the entire population of 2.5 million was dancing in the streets.
And dancing is a serious business. Most adults join dance clubs within their neighborhoods (much like the competing quarters in Brazil’s carnival) and practice in the streets nightly, performing a kind of Latin line dance. The parades, including the food, drink and music, are paid for by wealthier members of a community in a system called “preste,” which allows the rich to earn the respect of their neighbors.
The costumes that each person wears in the parade cost on average $250 – a princely sum in a developing country. Here’s just a taste of all the sparkle and glitter:
Can’t see the video? Click on this link: La Paz Parade
EAT (Tasty Eats) –Quinoa. Just so you’re ready, the United Nations has been declared 2013 to be the International Year of Quinoa. Quinoa is a cereal with edible seeds and is cooked just like rice. While gaining popularity in the U.S. and Europe, quinoa originated in the Andean region. In fact, the Incas held the crop to be sacred, calling it “mother of all grains.”
Quinoa is a wealth of nutrients, including essential amino acids, and high amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is a good source of protein and fiber and is gluten-free. It’s also related to the tumbleweed family. Hungry for some healthfulness?! Pick up some quinoa today!
SEE (Must-see Sights) – Salar de Uyuni. Found in southwest Bolivia, the Salar de Uyuni is a salt plain near the crest of the Andes Mountains at an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet. It was formed as a result of the transformation of several prehistoric lakes.
I think the Salar de Uyuni is one of the most fascinating places on earth. Check out these posts and find out why:
- Stunning Salar de Uyuni
- Salar de Uyuni *Fun Photos*
SHOP (Gotta Have) – Llama Wear. Oh no! I succumbed to llama mania, buying a sunset-inspired poncho (with red fringe and pom poms no less), a multicolored hat, socks with a llama motif, and a rainbow-striped scarf. And, of course, I like to wear my llama wear all at once = yikes!
Even more fun, I bought all my llama wear at a famous La Paz market called the Calle de las Brujas (Witch’s Market). While most of the items on sale are of the llama-wear variety, there are also a shocking number of statues, amulets, herbs, talismans and llama fetuses.
Yes, that’s right: llama fetuses. In Bolivia, shamans use llama fetuses as part of magic rituals. The fetuses (sold dried and hanging by their neck or stacked in baskets) and buried under the front door in houses as an offering to the goddess Mother Earth (Pachamama) and to ward off bad luck. Sometimes the fetuses are combined with other talismans in a piled and burned.
Now I know what happened to me when I bought my orangey-red fringed and pom pom-ed poncho. Bewitched!
ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Death Ride. OK – let’s be clear: I did not do the Death Ride (but I have plenty of friends who have.) Starting in the oxygen-depleted Andes air, the Death Ride is a 64-kilometer road that plunges 3,600 meters straight down. You ride a bike down it, or rather, you try.
In 1995, the Inter-American Development Bank nicknamed the La Paz-to-Coroico route “the world’s most dangerous road” due to the amount of cars and cyclists that plummet over the side each year. There are usually 2 deaths a month, and sometimes as many as 50+ a year.
Now the road is closed to traffic. But tragically, it’s considered even more dangerous since cyclists no longer slow down for cars and trucks, but continue speeding down the windy road, out of control, and too often, into the bottomless abyss.
GIVE (Greatest Need) – SustainableBolivia.org. This is one of the nonprofit organizations that my friend Julia volunteered with while in Bolivia. Sustainable Bolivia’s work focuses on promoting and protecting Bolivia’s rich biodiversity.
The org also strives to create global educational opportunities. One way it achieves this is by hosting volunteers who dedicate 3 months to the program. Volunteers work closely with the local community and contribute to a range of studies such as education, health, and the environment.
For more info, contact the org directly at: www.SustainableBolivia.org.
ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Cholita Wrestling. Cholitas are local Bolivian women. Cholita wrestling is local Bolivian women pulling each others’ pigtails.
Cholita wresters are part of a group of fighters called the Titans of the Ring, which includes both male and female wrestlers. They enter the ring every Sunday night.
I was originally introduced to cholita wrestling through a 2006 award-winning short film entitled: The Fighting Cholitas. And so when I found myself in La Paz on a Sunday night, I jumped at the chance to see the action live!
Really, it’s an once-in-a-lifetime event that is not to be missed! Here’s a peek:
Can’t see the video. Click on this link: Cholita Wrestling 1
In this clip, colitas get serious and pull down each other’s skirts!
Can’t see the video. Click on this link: Cholita Wrestling 2
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