Wheather you're suffering an ailment, searching for wealth or looking to exact revenge on a cheating partner, the Witches Market in La Paz, Bolivia, has all the answers. You can buy medicine for high altitude, potions, aphrodisiac formulas, dried frogs and even dried llama fetuses for Aymara rituals among many others.
It's something like the gathering point for Bolivian magic, deeply rooted in history, culture and traditions. Take the dried llama fetuses for instance, as creepy as they may look to foreigners, are traditionally buried under homes when the foundation is set: they bring security and prosperity. It is estimated that about 95% of Bolivian homes have them.
Dried armadillos are used for home protection, so you don't really need a house alarm after all. Need to know your future?...get a coca leaves reading!...that's about the equivalent of the tea leaves reading you may get in your own home town.
Clay figures, candles, snake skins, potions, inciense sticks, parts of frogs and insects herbs of just about any kind, and a myriad other items fill the Witches Market. You can even purchase spells if you want that special someone to fall in love, or get to know the fate of your new business venture in advance for instance. A bit of white magic always helps if you're willing to give it a shot.
Witches, sourcerers, medicine men, witch doctors, fortunetellers and tarot readers populate the market and surrounding area. To see old toothless women in bowler hats is a common sight. Tooth decay in Bolivia is frequently associated with coca leaves chewing, rooted in Andean cultures for millennia.
To be precise, they are not chewed. Known as Akullaku, the dry leaf is moistened with saliva and kept between the gum and cheek while sucked gently. It's energizing and takes the appetite away. The equivalent you're likely to find in your home town are energizing drinks, loaded with sugar and caffeine. There is no need to elaborate on health issues regarding its consumption here. Most likely, you already are well aware of it.
And talking about bowler hats - so widely used by Bolivian women (cholas), almost a landmark of Bolivian culture - do you know about the history behind this tradition? One version says that bowler hats were made in England in the late 1800s and were shipped to Bolivia for English railway workers in the 1920s, but they were too small. Instead of throwing them out they were given to the women in Bolivia, and "legend" has it that those who were wearing them did not have problems with infertility.
You don't need to be a witch to visit the Witches Market in case you wonder, but if you happen to be one, just hop on your broom and share your knowledge and expertise with your pals. Definitely it's one of the most interesting sights in Bolivia and South America.
Located on Calle Jimenez and Linares between Sagarnaga and Santa Cruz, an old quarter of cobblestone streets, the Witches Market or Mercado de las Brujas it's a must-visit when ready to explore the highest capital city in the world.