Tag Archives: Bolivia

The Bolivian Clock That Runs Backwards

The building that houses Bolivia’s legislative assembly in Plaza Murillo, in central La Paz, features a clock above the entrance that looks like a mirror image. The positions of the numerals on the clock face are reversed, and the clock itself runs anticlockwise. The building, which was erected during the 1920s and was originally intended to serve as the headquarters of Bolivia's central bank, featured a regular clock until 2014, when the clock was reversed to better reflect the “southern-ness” of the Bolivian people.

“Who said clocks always have to run the same way? Why do we always have to be obedient? Why can't we be creative?” asked Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, who seemed especially pleased with the idea.

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The Witches’ Market of La Paz, Bolivia

Along a narrow cobblestone street in an old quarter of La Paz, in Boliva, old women dressed in traditional Andean garb of colorful ankle-length dresses and bowler hats sit with their wares spread out in front of them. This is the famous Mercado de las Brujas, or the Witches' Market. It has everything a witch could desire—amulets, talisman, herbs, good luck charms, dried armadillos and frogs, ceramic figures of naked couples, aphrodisiac formulas, owl feathers, dried turtles, starfish, snakes and the Bolivian favorite, dried llama fetuses. Many of these items are used in religious rituals honoring the spirits of the Aymara religion. Others are used to bring health, love, intelligence, happiness, wealth and longevity into peoples’ lives. One of the best-selling items is boxed herbs … Read the rest

The Colorful Mansions of El Alto

Spread out across the Bolivian highlands, at 4,000 meters, the city of El Alto is predominantly ochre-red, with thousands of low, matchbox-like brick houses with unfinished and unpainted facades lining the sides of dusty, unpaved roads. It’s so drab and monotonous and depressing that residents have started to liven things up by adding splashes of color wherever they could. They have also started to design their houses into bizarre shapes.

Spearheading this new architectural revolution is self-taught architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre, whose ostentatious mansions and tacky color choices are poised to take over the entire city. These buildings are dubbed cholets, from the words chalet, which means large house, and chola, a pejorative term for the indigenous Aymara people.

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