I'm finally making my way to La Paz in February. What are some museums and cultural spots worth looking at?
Posted on Dec 16, 2010
In La Paz:
Restaurant Peña Marka Tambo, Calle Jaén 710 near the corner of Indaburo, puts on a good show about some of the most authentic folkloric dances of Bolivia. Thursday through Saturday nights. Calle Jaén is also the site of several (small) museums.
Calle Sagarnaga, Sagarnaga St. for Bolivian handcraft shopping, includes the "witches market" (mercado de hechiceria) for those inclined on nearby street. Adventure tourism businesses are also located in this area. San Francisco church is located at the base of Sagarnaga St. The Coca Museum is in this general area (http://www.cocamuseum.com/htm/layoutleft.html).
Alasitas market is a temporary market set up around January 24th where everything for sale is miniature. You can ask when you arrive to La Paz if it is still set up.
Part of what La Paz (and Bolivia) so unique is just the local people. The pre-Colombian culture of La Paz is Aymara. Checking out the markets that don't just cater to the tourists is a way to see and interact with Aymara people. These markets are all over the city. In the same general area as San Francisco is one called Mercado Lanza where you can eat api (a hot, sweet yellow and/or red corn drink) and fried bonhuelos (wheat flour) or pasteles (flour and cheese) or sonsos (yucca and cheese).
Apparently there is a textile musuem. It could be worth investigating. The Altiplano region is home to some amazing weaving with each area having some unique patterns. There was an excellent little textile musuem in Sucre that focuses on the weaving of that region. If you visited that one, then you could ask around to find out if it is worth seeing the one in La Paz.
Outside La Paz:
Tiwanaku ruins outside of La Paz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiwanaku) It has a museum.
Isla del Sol - Island of the Sun, in Lake Titicaca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isla_del_Sol)
Coroico is a lower altitude side trip from La Paz, some enjoy traveling there by bike, but beware of the dangers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yungas_Road). Some also hike there via the Choro trail (http://www.besthike.com/southamerica/bolivia/choro.html)
A local contact is Mily de la Riva +591 (2) 243-3131 who works in marketing at a local hotel (Ritz Apart Hotel http://www.ritzbolivia.com/index.php)
She is my Nephew's sister.
Posted Dec 21, 2010Add a comment
Its been a while since I was there... but go to the main cathedral, face it, walk up the hill on the left side of it, and look to the left.. pick an alley and walk down it. Neato stuff -- textiles, custom bags.
From same cathedral, go uphill again a few blocks and to the right... I think (be sure to clarify) that this is the "witchcraft market" lots of neato stuff that is not touristy.
Be sure to chew on coca leaves, drink coca tea, do not do cocaine.
Also this: http://www.gravitybolivia.com/index.php?mod=homeb was the most fun I've had in a long time. I took the one that started in the mountain and ended in the rainforest. Bring more coca leaves because even if you are not effected by the altitude sickness... the quick up and over the mountain can bring it out, or cause a relapse.
Posted Dec 16, 2010Add a comment
Coca is an acquired taste and if you ever get into a situation drinking with any local Aymara, be sure to pour a libation to Pachamama - Mother Earth. Simply pour a bit of your drink on the floor to Pachamama. Will hold you in good stead with the locals.
Posted on Apr 02, 2013
The Witches Market has become a bit touristy, but it does still have some crazy/cool stuff if you go a little deeper and explore inside some of the shops (off the main street that is claimed to be the Witches Market). A bit beyond that, as you walk up and away from the city center (past Plaza San Francisco), you will find yourself entering a gigantic market (I think it has a lot of different names, one being Mercado Buenos Aires). It is practically endless, every time I went there I discovered new parts. You can find anything that exists on this earth there, pretty much, and the further you wander into it the more "authentic" it gets (i.e. you will be the only non-local around).
The other cool thing I did in La Paz was go to see a Cholitas Wrestling show. It's pretty ridiculous (think WWE but with Bolivian men dressed in weird superhero costumes and a couple traditionally-dressed women who jump in now and then), but a LOT of fun. Again it's mostly locals (it's up in El Alto, about 20-30 minutes up and away from the city center, with some great views of the city) and a smattering of backpackers who get tickets through their hostels. I think it's once a week, but it is definitely an experience worth having if you can!
Admittedly, I didn't visit any real museums in La Paz. But if you want to read about what I did there, I have a couple posts about it:
I really enjoyed the city and for me it was a great place to relax and just explore. I found just wandering the city brought the most interesting cultural observations for me. And yeah, a lot of people do the World's Most Dangerous Road (I believe that's the bike ride Hapto was referring to) and/or fly out to the jungle in Rurrenabaque. I didn't end up dong either, but they are highlights for many people.
Enjoy the city!
Posted Dec 17, 2010Add a comment
If you are there on a sunday go see the Cholitas wrestling. It is an amazing time, and most agencies book the trip. It takes 4 hours in the afternoon. Real lucha libre wrestling with a twist. I loved it.
Also, San Pedro prison is an incredible and unique experience.
Posted Feb 16, 2011Add a comment
I would definitely recommend a trip out to Chacaltaya, it has been a while and I drive up there back in the early 90s when there was ample snow. I have read recently that much of the glacial areas have been eroded away. The Zongo Valley is also a must if you can't face taking the Yungas trip down to Coroico
Posted Apr 02, 2013Add a comment