RELEASE DATE: 01 Sep, 2010


“You know how you Europeans save money to go on holiday? Here we save money for our festivals.” Festivals are expensive business, from the booze, food and décor to the elaborate costumes, but for Bolivians it’s all worth it. To the outsider it is the most colourful showcase of Bolivian culture, but as we learnt this month there is far more to it than party, party, party. These articles chart our interaction with festival-goers, do-ers and more, refusing to be distracted by short skirts, waltzing past the zestful spirit of that fiesta on the Prado and into its tenebrous back alleys. From unearthing dubiously obtained skulls to encountering transvestite intellectuals, we have journeyed in and beyond the party atmosphere that so characterises August. A significant stop-off includes our collaboration with the Hormigón Armado this month, as well as holding up a barometer to the country’s political trends. Written accounts pale beside the vibrancy of what we experienced this month, but we hope that despite the lack of cerveza and zampoñas, through reading these articles you will be able to enjoy the festivals as much as we have. And if this isn’t enough, next time join us!

N.B. Several Spanish and Aymara words are marked in bold throughout this issue. Their meanings can be found in the glossary on the last page.

--Xenia Elsaesser and Andrew Cummings


Maphrao On Review

26 Jul, 2010 | Edwina Popescu and William Barns Graham

Peering in at the candle-lit interior of Asian restaurant Maphrao On, you cannot help but be drawn in by the wooden furnishings and Asian objets d’intérêt creating a romantic but homely atmosphere. As...

Paceño Style

27 Aug, 2010 | Olivia Alter and Katie Lark

Forget bowler hats, long skirts, shawls and plaits - there’s more to Bolivian fashion than the cholita uniform. We headed to the city centre, around San Francisco, to see what other styles we could f...

Bolivia's Real Death Road

27 Aug, 2010 | Emma Hall

On entering the Cementerio General of La Paz, the presence of Catholic and generally European traditions related to death struck me straight away. Cholitas had unearthed black variants of their tradit...

Quién va a sembrar la tierra?

27 Aug, 2010 | Xenia Elsaesser

Who will sow the land? The Jalqas sow the land. When I decided to join the Jalqas I did not realise the gravity of what I was undertaking. Enticed by merrily leaping couples, it seemed like a fun danc...

We'll Have A Gay Old Time

27 Aug, 2010 | Andrew Cummings

‘Chicken’, noun: as well as referring to the animal, the word can colloquially mean ‘cowardly’, alluding to a certain deficiency in one’s virility. But Evo Morales seems to believe that the link betwe...

Blue Nightclub Review

27 Aug, 2010 | Olivia Alter

Now Blue really is the place to be on a Saturday night. Or any night for that matter. Whether you want to or not, you will end up at Blue on a night out. Blue is a bit like Marmite: you may find a...

My Super Sweet Fifteen

27 Aug, 2010 | Anna Hunter

The church blessing, the Cinderella gown, the bouquet, the tiered cream cake, the first dance…all little girls dream of this day. The average schoolgirl has to make do with playing Polly Pocket weddin...

Hanging Out With The Lustrabotas

27 Aug, 2010 | Deborah Bender

The lustrabotas are the young boys who offer to shine your shoes on the streets of La Paz. You will also find them running to your side with their shoeshine kit if you chance to sit on a bench in one...

Forum Nightclub Review

27 Aug, 2010 | Olivia Alter

Apparently, Forum is the place to be on a Saturday night in La Paz, but on two conditions: you look good enough (or often even white enough...), and you can make it through the hour or so of Latino-mu...

Wagamama Review

26 Jul, 2010 | Edwina Popescu

Japanese restaurant Wagamama is tucked away behind notorious “Gringo bar” “Traffic”. Meaning “picky and demanding”, Wagamama has an extensive menu with the potential to satisfy even the most “wagamama...

Customary Moralety

27 Aug, 2010 | Alistair Smout

It’s not often that a president who returns with 64% of the popular vote (nearly 40% more than their nearest rival) faces stern political opposition eight months into their presidency, but then, Evo M...

Viñetas con Altura

27 Aug, 2010 | Lorange Dao and Tanja Roembke

Although we arrived more than 30 minutes late to the MUSEF (Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore), where Viñetas con Altura was being held, the conference had not yet begun. An eclectic selection o...

My Big Fat Bolivian Wedding

27 Aug, 2010 | Deborah Bender and Rishum Butt

"And so the prince in shining armour rides gallantly upon his white stallion across strange and foreign lands, high and low, all in search of his beloved, so that he may take her and wed her in holy m...

Café Beirut Review

27 Aug, 2010 | Tanja Roembke

The Middle Eastern restaurant Café Beirut has a nice Arabic flair, with one wall completely covered with pipes of varying sizes; it also boasts a lot of sitting space and a separate lounge area to smo...

Cafe Arábica Review

27 Aug, 2010 | Emma Hall

Along the extensive 20 de Octubre strip of eateries comes Cafe Arábica (as long as you can manage to resist the temptation of Chocolate Caliente one door down). Entering the cafe, you could be anywher...

One Last August Rite

27 Aug, 2010 | Niall Maccrann

I couldn’t help myself. Bolivia’s festive fever swept me up and carried me off to where I wasn’t supposed to be, to Copacabana’s celebrations. As I was assigned to report on everything that wasn’t Aug...

Ploughing In The Sea: The Legacy of Bolivar - 6 de Agosto

27 Aug, 2010 | Alistair Smout

In the Zona Sopocachi of La Paz, things are peculiarly quiet. The normally chaotic traffic is calm, and pedestrians cross the road with relative ease. Shops are shuttered up, cafes are draped in red,...