Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Mercado De Las Brujas

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Mercado De Las Brujas

Article excerpt

VISITORS TO LA PAZ, Bolivia, in search of something truly out of the ordinary will want to put this mountain city's Mercado de las Brujas (Witches' Market) on their itinerary. Finding the fabled but small collection of vendors' shops and stalls, however, can prove to be difficult. Merchants selling such customary indigenous Andean merchandise as textiles, leather goods, baskets, straw hats, candy, and futbol jerseys will likely cast a bemused look when asked about the market, shrug, and plead ignorance.

"There is no such thing as brujeria," an indignant taxi driver responded recently when asked about the market's location. He emphasized his contempt for the topic by pointing at the crucifix that dangled from the rearview mirror and adding, "There is only one true path."

However, the market--all but indistinguishable from the other commercial outlets that surround it--does exist. Its home is in the heart of the city's busy Aymara District on Calle Linares, roughly equidistant between Avenida Illampu, a busy hillside thoroughfare, and the Prado, the primary avenue in the city center. Here, a close-knit group of Aymara women offer a blend of traditional natural remedies for their longtime patrons and curiosities stocked to appeal to the rapidly growing tourist trade. …

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