The witches are respected characters of La Paz. On the streets Jimenez and Linares in the bolivian megapole, their shops attract tourists´eye with their colorful candies, herbal potions and dead llamas.
A couple of secrets from the witches of La Paz
Don´t expect them to tell you their secrets or to let you take them in pictures. In fact, if you show a bit too much curiosity, they will stare at you with a black look, making you fear they just casted an evil spell on you. The witches market is something serious.
Don´t be scared by the usual sight of dead animals or skeletons hanging on their doors, pacha-mama (mother earth) requires sometimes bigger offrandes than just candies and herbs. The local habit is to burry a dead llama under a future house, to bring luck and prosperity over the new home. A majority of the population has strong beliefs towards pacha-mama and the witches rituals and most of construction workers will refuse to start working before the proper completion of the ritual. (Don´t worry, if you don´t know how to perform it yourself, you can always hire the witch to do so!).
Potosi -located at 4067m- is one of the highest cities in the world, and for 400 years from the 16th century, it was also the most populated city in the world. At its peak around 150 000 people lived there, twice as much as in Paris at the same period of time. But Potosi´s history is not a happy one. We had an opportunity to visit the silver mines and get a glimpse on how the Potosi miner makes his way through the tunnels to find the precious metal, silver.
It was not planned, it should have never happened. Already at travel planning stage, when Adnan expressed his desire to visit the mine of Potosi, the biggest silver mine in the world, I answer “No problem, I will find something else to do.” Maybe because I grew up in the north of France, a former mining area, I have always associated mines with danger. The idea of going in a dark, and narrow space for a couple of hours was nothing that I felt relaxed about.
It didn´t started that well. As often in Bolivia, a man in a suit started his long and loud sales speech for some miraculous medecine as soon as the bus started rolling.
But as soon as we got out of town (and got rid of the sales guy by the same occasion), we realized the journey Potosi – Uyuni will be among the most pleasant.
When you spent several days trekking, biking, kayaking or on other active explorations, comes a time to slow down and take a day off. Treating yourself with a couple of nights in a cozy hostel with pool and a great view. is just the perfect way to recover.
Exhausted after our conquest of Huayna Potosi (6088m), we found ourselves taking it easy in the touristic town of Coroico, just 3h of La Paz. The weather is warm and the views splendid, here it´s so simple to indulge yourself in being lazy and regain energy for your next adventures.
In Coroico, Little Big Explorations recommands:
We loved the hostel El Cafetel with its great pool over looking the valley and the Cordillera Real. Located 10min out of town, it´s an oasis of tranquility. The rooms are basic but clean and cozy and the on site resturant serves a delicious breakfast. (Double room with shared bathroom B$100).
People say you can´t describe this feeling. They are right. Few things in the world compete with the sensation of accomplishment of conquering a summit. After 5 intense hours of climbing, on Monday the 7th of October at 6.30am, I conquered Huyana Potosi, 6088m (Bolivia). I am on the top of the world. And I just caught the summit bug.