To begin gently, let's go for a walk in the quiet streets of Sopocachi. We will find small shops and cafés worth a stop-in; we pass by the market of Sopocachi to grab a cup of coca leaf tea, the sacred and traditional drink, the remedy against the altitude. Then there’s the yapa, that is to say the small extra offered by the saleswoman, because one always "yapa" a good customer here.
A mixed city full of contrasts, La Paz is the perfect sample of a whole country. From Sopocachi to the market district, full of colors and smells, you cross a few streets to find yourself in the heart of the historical district, now a business center. The only common thread that runs between these two worlds is the permanently noisy chaos that characterizes them.
In the historical district, we take the Calle Jaen, one of the last colonial streets of the city, with its cobblestones and colored houses. We peer through every door to discover small inner courtyards, galleries. When we meet Rosario, she tells us about the culture, fashion, and traditions of the area, and invites us to try her numerous cholita skirts ( 7 layers of skirt they say ).
We reach El Alto by cable car, flying over houses as far as the eye can see, immersing ourselves in the view of the inner courtyards, the terraces where traditional clothes and dance costumes dry... On the side of the cliffs, the shamans lead the ceremonies of offerings to the Pachamama. Let's venture to one of them to have our coca leaves read by a professional!
A little extra treat? A full immersion into Bolivian life cannot be complete without a visit to a traditional dance performance. Bolivian dances are a true representation of the country’s diverse culture. Carnival is the moment to abolish hierarchies, overcome taboos, and, celebrate, behind the masks, all the occult worlds so present in certain Bolivian belief systems. Are you tempted by the idea of participating in a rehearsal of Tinku, Diablada or Llamerada? A group of dancers will proudly teach us the steps and the meaning of their choreography. For this exercise, endurance is the key: at an altitude of almost 4,000 meters, we can really feel the lack of oxygen!