Witches’ Market in La Paz

We visited the famous Witches’ Market in La Paz, which was just two blocks from our place.  Mostly, it was a tourist market selling all the typical sweaters, bags, jewelry, hats, etc. But there were also strange remedies and good luck charms for sale (like the one that the lady in the blue smock is holding, which I bought) and Halloween-type decorations.

Most gruesome and heart-wrenching for Elise, were the mummified baby llamas. We stared in disbelief – looked away in horror – and then couldn’t help looking again. What on earth??

Turns out, they were all stillborn, and instead of being buried, they are carefully preserved to bring luck to one’s home or farm. It was only when Elise discovered this fact that she could handle looking at them – she even managed to vlog about them.

But there was a much lighter side to the market. As usual, Elise actively checked out all the little figurines. Here she is comparing prices between a small and large llama with a good-natured merchant (10 vs 25 bolivianos or $1.45 vs $3.60).

And here she is making sure that the hat she bought as a Christmas present for her beloved stuffed animal, Paws, matches a tiny sweater. It was an astonishing $2.89! (Anyone up for a handcrafts import/export biz?) When we got back to the hotel, she announced that Paws was sleeping and tried the sweater on him. It fit.

A few more Witches’ Market scenes.

Full disclosure: I did not want to be impolite and photograph the woman in the photo below without her consent, so I offered to pay her. She drove a hard bargain! But it was worth it. I love her faraway eyes, bowler hat perched jauntily on her head, and her colorful scarves. Other ladies I’d tried to photograph in the produce market would accept the money I’d offered, then hide their faces with their hats, much to the amusement of their friends around them.  When I would say “Awwwwwwwww!” and not take a shot, they would laugh and return the money.

Remedies for all your ailments. Not sure what the one at the bottom left is with the cross. Maybe for those who’ve lost their faith?

I don’t even want to know what those things are.

Continuing on the spooky theme, we checked out the masks at the Ethnography & Folklore Museum…and the less scary ceramics, hats and feather creations. I hope you enjoy the pix – I was nabbed by a guard for taking photos without a photo permit (didn’t know I needed one). But then I paid the 20 bolivianos – same price as the entrance fee – and was allowed to shoot with impunity.