Category Archives: Bolivia

Scenes of La Paz – Part 3

La Paz Bolivia, one of the highest capital cities in the world, also one of the great places for street photography

Mantas or ponchos are great for everything including carrying heavy boxes, wrapping it around your back like a little pack

Telling fortunes by reading your coco leaves in the streets in front of the Catheral.

The main streets were closed by Bolivianos protesting against the government for removing the miner’s pensions. Protests are so common that armed guards are situated permanently around the Government parliament squares just in case of such protests.

El Alto is a suburb of La Paz and where most of the poorer bolivians live. It is known for its poorer inhabitants and its high crime rates. While the rich and middle class stay in the lower grounds, the higher you go, the poorer the residents are. Still they have the best views of La Paz and great place to view the entire city.

Jelly drink with foamed cream is quite typical and I resisted getting one just because it might give me the Bolivian belly.

It was full moon and I had to make a special trip back to El Alto just for shooting this image. Watching the sun set as the moon rises in one of the highest capital cities in the world is just breathtaking.

La Paz, the flat and lower city is where the rich and the middle class live, and the higher grounds are the poorer neighbourhoods. quite a different arrangement compared to Asia where the rich all live in the hills.

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It’s a winner in La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz, Bolivia

Shoe shining are considered the lowest status jobs and often young boys working as shoe shiners would cover themselves so not to be discriminated against. The older ones seem to take it in strive, but when I saw this image, with a well dressed business man getting his shoes cleaned and talking on his mobile phone, it made the whole scene particularly meaningful.

Scenes of La Paz – Part 2

La Paz in Bolivia is one of the highest capital cities in the world, it is a great place to spend a few days just wandering through the various streets and the famous witches market for its strange potions and rituals.

Food market right outside the cementaries.

Witches market where you get everything from potions, spells, llama foetus for your home. These make great gifts to your friends and family

Witches market, the friendly vendor explains the various amulet for your various rituals.

Street vendor selling Chicharron, fried pig skin that is often eaten as a snack

Selling herbal supplements and exlirs for virility, sexual prowess and general well being. Eck.

Boliviana ladies wearing their famous bowler hats. The ladies commonly call Cholitas are indigenous women of Aymara descent wearing their version of old victorian dresses mixed with indigenous sense of fashion which is absolutely gorgeous and quite pricey too.

Scenes of La Paz – Part 1

La Paz Government Square, where the parliament of Bolivia resides

Feeding pigeons at La Paz Government Square

The tourist market streets in La Paz

The food market selling fried fish and potatos, for less than us$2 you would get a big chunk of fish and chips.

Young students dress up as zebras : in South America, vehicles have no respect for pedestrians and often speed up despite seeing someone crossing the road. In La Paz, a program started, educating the drivers to stop at crossings and follow road rules.

Scenes of Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is one of the largest high altitude lake and situated between Peru and Bolivia.

Life in the various islands and the surroundings still remain quite rural with no running water or electricity, a harsh agricultural lifestyle that is rather surprising for the largest influx of tourists visiting the area.

I enjoyed the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, visiting Taquile island which still preserves its authentic cultural lifestyle than Bolivia’s side in Isle de Sol that was innundated with tourists and locals trying to cash in by collecting endless road tolls and charging entrance fees for passing every village. The boliviano side wasn’t particularly welcoming nor friendly either.

Uros floating islands

The Uros are Pre-Inca people who construct their own land by weaving reeds islands in Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. We visited the Uros people on the way to the island of Taquile. The speedboat does the mandatory stopover regardless of whether you wanna visit the islands.

The visit was a mixed feeling, while it was fascinating to visit the various reed islands, the whole scene was over touristy, largely because it was just a short half hour visit to one artificial reed island and having these indigenous people totally dependent on visiting tourists buying their wares. It just didn’t feel real, however it was still an experience to be walking on these floating artificial island that is still maintained by the Uros even if it was just for the tourists.

Cholitas – Female wrestlers of Bolivia!

If you happen to be in La Paz, Bolivia on a sunday. Go catch the fascinating and very campy wrestling match between the indigenous women and men. Of course extranjeros (tourists) pay quite a bit more than the locals, but it is worth the experience of watching these beautiful Cholitas, indigenous Aymara women wrestle. The fight in El Alto stadium, one of the poorer areas and somewhat dangerous neighbourhoods especially at night.  The audience and the wrestlers all come from nearby neighbourhoods, gathering every sunday afternoon for the various matches.
Always curious of what goes on in the background, I made my way to the back of the stadium where the wrestlers prepare for their fight. Somewhat disappointed for I was expecting a grand waiting room for the wrestlers only to be greeted by a bland room where each wrestlers are expected to dress and wait for their fights.

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If only I have cerviche once a week

I have an obsession with food, always.  This is part of the essential part of my travels and it is a deal breaker for anyone who wants to travel with me. I eat a lot, sometimes a lot of weird stuff, and often the restaurant or food stall is hidden on some back alley street. I hate going to typical tourist restaurants and seek out the cheap and characterful places. It also helps to have an iron stomach, especially if you are game for raw stuff.

Part of the popular dishes in South America is cerviche. Raw seafood cooked in lime juice and other sauces. I had it in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Easter Island, Peru.

The best cerviche I ever had was in the most unlikely place that is a little far away from the coast.  That was in Nazca, Peru, famous for the Nazca lines. It was cheap and so good for only us$5 for a complete meal that included a soup, the cerviche, main fish dish, a drink.

Every country prepares their cerviche a little differently.

Bolivia serve mostly fish cerviche with fried toasted corn and lotsa lime and chilli. Ecuador loves their cerviche with conche and prawns served with panacones (fried banana chips) and pop corn. Chile has their sea urchin cerviche which is delicious but expensive, serve plain with lime and onion. Easter island has mainly tuna cerviche, serve plainly like the Chileano version with lotsa lime juice. Peru has one of the best cerviches, mainly fish with some spices and mint.

 

Largest salt plains in the world with ton loads of Cactus

Bolivia is pretty much known for the famous Salar de Uyuni and here in the Salar, Island of Pescadore or Incahuasi or the island of fish  is pretty much the most well known place to visit. However they should really rename it as the isle of Cactus for it is covered with cacti.

Incahuasi is right smack in the salt flats is an island spruce up with tons of cactus. Got to spend a night at the island after the tourists have left, under the freezing cold skies. I got the idea of sleeping here after looking at all the photos, and realise there isn’t many night shots of the island.

This is the  best place to star glaze or watching the sunset and sunrise touch the horizon. The skies are so clear as it is quite high in altitude (around 3000meters) and no one in sight for miles. Simply gorgeous and well worth the effort to persuade everyone including the travel companions and travel guide/driver to spend the night here. I had to keep harping on the great beauty that awaits all of us when most of the companions were apprehensive about the place. My tour guide cum driver was terrific and very accomodating to my request. It was his first time sleeping at the island as well.

My tour guide cum driver, a sweetheart wanted a photo of him jumping, and request to be dressed in my traditional poncho/manta.

Definately well worth the experience.

A pair of llamas dancing out their mating rituals. Only few llamas on the island of cacti

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Female Cholita wrestlers of Bolivia

Every Sunday in La Paz, Bolivia, locals and tourists alike are entertained by Cholitas, amazing ladies who seemingly look harmless dressed in huge skirts but put up a mean mean fight with Lucha Libre fighters, males in superhero costumes
Cholita wrestlers are indigenous Aymara females in traditional bolivian clothes which resemble antiquated Victorian costumes.

Even thought, the whole wrestling action look harmless and mostly play acting. The Cholitas, female wrestlers do get hurt. Her opponent smashed a gate post on her and she really bled real blood.

Self proclaimed win from the cholita wrestler :  The judge for the match was terribly biased towards the male opponent, despite throwing  the male fighter down several times, this Cholita wrestler officially lost due to extreme biasedness from the judge but that didn’t stop her from a self-proclaimed victory.