RELEASE DATE: 01 Sep, 2012

EDITORIAL BY Amaru Villanueva Rance

‘I am the body who inhabits you, and I am here in the darkness, and I suffer you, and live you, and die you. But I am not your body. I am the night.’ With these lines Jaime Saenz, one of La Paz’s most celebrated residents, ends his eponymous poem about the night.

We brave the city’s streets after dusk to bring you this issue of the BX. As well as the mandatory tour along some of La Paz’s most popular bars, we also explore the dark side of La Paz’s reputation as a party town to reveal the social ills caused by an overabundance of cheap spirits, sometimes culminating in the infamous practice of drinking oneself to death in one of the city’s famed ‘elephant cemeteries.’ We also venture into one of the city’s worst-kept secrets to report on the all-too-famous cocaine bar also known as Route 36.

Victor Hugo Viscarra famously described how the homeless must keep moving throughout the night to escape the vice-like grip of the cold, sleeping only when the sun comes out. Only a handful will find a shelter in which to rest. We track down Daniel Escalante, a former street kid who is slowly changing the fate of the city’s homeless by giving them a roof and a purpose.

Stepping back onto the city’s night lights, we meet some of the artists who know them most intimately. Take Matamba, the dreadlocked reggae peace warrior who has been spreading the word of Jah. Or Marco Cuba, one of the country’s most accomplished DJs, who has the mysterious ability to bring the night to life at the flick of a wrist on a turntable.

A different set of characters come to life past midnight. Indeed, many individuals use the moonlight to carry out unusual second jobs. We report how Gabriel Flores makes a living by using the wee hours to take dreamy visitors on stargazing treks. Away from the city lights, one’s sights are then drawn to the night skies, where we’re told we must pay closer attention to the negative space between the stars to find ancestral Andean constellations.

To finish off this issue, we take a ride back to our headquarters on the 20 de Octubre with Mario Durán, one of La Paz’s most unique taxi drivers. Suffice it to say we’d probably do well to bring him along to our next pub quiz at Oliver’s Travels – our last participation ended disastrously. But first we must head to bed. Hasta mañana readers, hasta the next issue. Sleep tight.


Taxi trivia

30 Sep, 2012 | Amaru Villanueva Rance

A fare-changing game Urban lore has it that you’ll find a taxi driver roaming the streets of La Paz at night who will challenge you to a game en route to your destination. He typically gives you...

Un traguito mas

30 Sep, 2012 | Joanna Thom

Alcoholism in Bolivia: from social pastime to social illness. A group of teenagers giggle as they line up outside the club. Still in school, they’re not yet legally allowed to buy or consume alco...

Jaime Saenz

30 Sep, 2012 | Deshan Chetty

The poète maudit (accursed poet) of La Paz As I walk through the streets, taking in the sights and sounds of the city, I begin to wonder about him. A lot must have changed about the city since hi...

Nighttime on high

30 Sep, 2012 | Wan Joo Teo

Working Through the Day, So He Can Stargaze – and Make a Little Money – at Night! The question ‘What do you do?’ is fairly innocuous, but for 30-year-old Gabriel Flores, there is no simple answer...

The Incan Milky way

30 Sep, 2012 | Laeticia Grevers

A Path to Another World On the border to Achumani , a neighbourhood in southeast La Paz, the star-filled sky is blocked out in places by the borders of the mountains that jump out from the earth,...

The homes of the homeless

30 Sep, 2012 | Felix de Grey

Daniel Escalante and his mission to change the situation of the city’s street children As night-time begins to envelop the streets of La Paz, thousands of street children, many of them shoeshine...

Lessons from the booth

30 Sep, 2012 | Ben Fagan

Tonight’s DJ is Marco Cuba http:// http:// Walking into Traffic on the Avenida Arce at mid...

White nights

30 Sep, 2012 | Rose Acton, Laetitia Grevers

The Distorted Reality of Cocaine Tourism In a bar, a woman discretely leaves for the toilet from time to time. When she is back she seems rejuvenated– fun, talkative and enthusiastic. We are now...


30 Sep, 2012 | Rosanna Butters

Band interview If you have been to TTKOS, Parque de las Cholas or Tercer Festival Intercultural del Amor these last two months you may have come across the reggae-hardcore fusion act that is Mata...

Drinking in La Paz

30 Sep, 2012 | Alice Ayling

Night after night, hoards of expectant partygoers line the streets of La Paz; queuing eagerly with their IDs in hand; standing outside the myriad bars, clubs and popular nightspots. As the Sun goes do...