The Witches Market of La Paz

El Mercado de las Brujas… the name just rolls off the tongue and straight into the cauldron. For some, it conjures up images of elderly ladies with sun-withered skin and charms strung around their neck who beckon you into their small, gritty stall decorated with shriveled animal parts for fortunes told.

la paz bolivia witches market 4Alas, it’s a little more touristy but fortunately, there’s still plenty of interesting sights to see at Bolivia’s Witches Market in La Paz.

You’ll know you’re in the right area when you spot the tiny herds of dried, llama fetuses hanging out the front that are sure to startle a few wide-eyed tourists.

While you might cry, Whyyy, what did those lil unfortunates do to deserve that?!’ keep in mind that llamas have a high natural abort rate due to genetically fragile wombs and with the animal being common livestock in Bolivia, the desiccated carcasses in varying stages of development, aren’t exactly hard to come by.  Continue reading

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The Day Machu Picchu Was Mine

In a mountain jungle high above the clouds, I can look down upon a sprawling puzzle of stone, combined  like an ancient God’s lego stash. Most pieces resemble the walls of houses or terraces with loose stones lying in the emerald green grass waiting to find their place in the rocky mosaic. The only sound floating in the breeze is the fossicking of llamas keeping the lawns trim, the scurry of furry chinchillas enjoying an evening dust bath and my mate yelling from a ledge above, “This is fucking awesome! I can’t believe we have the whole place to ourselves!”

Machu Picchu…for most young, modern explorers, it is the epitome of any South American backpacking trip, but the majority will have to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with about 500 other tourists. This can remove some of the majestic vibe of the ancient Incan ruins, which only had its first set of foreign eyes look upon it just over 100 years ago. But imagine having the whole place to yourself! Not even a park employee looking over your shoulder! See, while most people train in and out on the same day, thus ensuring they have to leave the mountain in the late afternoon to get the last train back to Cusco, not many people stay overnight.
This is how we came to have one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World…all..to..ourselves. Continue reading