RELEASE DATE: 01 Nov, 2014

EDITORIAL BY Sara Shahriari

Walking the streets of La Paz at one in the afternoon, it can seem the only residents of this city are teenagers. School uniforms, flirting and masses of young people blocking sidewalks and ambling along the Prado take over for a few hours, and with good reason. In 2010, 56 percent of Bolivia's population was under the age of 25, according to the World Health Organization.

This month the young and the not-so-young members of the Bolivian Express team took on the idea of youth culture in Bolivia. We thought about how young people are changing language, changing style, changing dating and sex, and spending their free time.

One of our writers ventured off to find out how skateboarding is taking off in La Paz, thanks in large part to some dedicated local and international volunteers who constructed a truly impressive boarders' paradise that is flooded every weekend with young Paceños and Paceñas. Another took to online dating - she was wary at first, but later found herself a bit addicted to the ease of swiping through potential matches at any time of the day or night.

Being young is often thought of as a time of freedom and lack of real responsibilities, but we also met young people in Bolivia who don't have that option. We got to know Sarita, a girl who is just 14 years old, but works a full-time job and goes to school. We also met Pedro, who at 16 is the oldest child and helps his mother care for his younger siblings. It's a reminder that the irresponsible teenage life glorified in pop culture is the result of privilege many people don't experience.

We also thought about what the word 'young' really means. Does it mean being under 25, or under 30? Is 40 really the new 30, and does that mean someone who is 35 can reflect youth culture if they live a certain lifestyle? One of our somewhat-mature correspondents set out to delve into the world of the kind-of-young, to find how youth is being stretched out or held onto.

So whether you think of yourself as young or not, come along with us as we explore a little piece of what it means to grow up in Bolivia today.



25 Nov, 2014 | Adriana Murillo Argandona

Between light and shadow... Illustration: Oscar Zalles Sarita lives in Santa Cruz with her boyfriend. She gets up every morning to begin work at 6 am at a supermarket and works until 2 in the a...

Technologically Bright

25 Nov, 2014 | Vicky Roberts

Computers, Coding and Education in Bolivia Down behind the market stalls on the streets of Eloy Salmón, La Paz’s most notorious electronics market, young kids work meticulously to crack cell-phon...


25 Nov, 2014 | Wilmer Machaca

In all societies, age appears to be one of the principal defining attributes of activity and social image. Age and sex form the basis for social classification, coding and structuring in a demographic...


25 Nov, 2014 | Rodrigo Barrenechea

“Too many bottles of this wine we can't pronounce Too many bowls of that green, no lucky charms The maids come around too much Parents ain't around enough Too many joy rides in daddy's jag...

Want to Speak Like a Paceño? ‘Yaaaa!’

25 Nov, 2014 | Vicky Roberts

Things you notice when you first arrive in La Paz: the mountains, the cholitas, the traffic… and then the resounding choruses of ‘Yaaaa’ exclaimed by the younger generation, a linguistic idiom that ha...


25 Nov, 2014 | Sophia Vahdati

MOTELS IN LA PAZ OFFER UP A SPACE OF SEXUAL FREEDOM AND SECRECY FOR YOUNG PACEÑOS Photo: Valeria Wilde The door opens up into a hidden cave of treasures. I walk through a rounded tunnel; the c...

Skating reaches new heights in La Paz

25 Nov, 2014 | Katherine Browning

Katherine Browning visits the world's highest skate park to roll around and chat to one of the guys who made it all happen. Photo: From the Levi's Documentary "Skateboarding in La Paz" It's 2:3...


25 Nov, 2014 | Vicky Roberts

Finding Love in the Palm of your Hand Swipe left, swipe right; left, right, left, left, right. Anyone who’s been looking for love in the past couple of years (and hasn’t been hiding under a rock)...


25 Nov, 2014 | Christy Callaway-Gale

Thirty journalists, armed with tripods, microphones and stage makeup, are sent into the jungle by the Ministry of Tourism to see what Bolivia’s Amazon has to offer. T-shirts, bare legs and high...


03 Dec, 2014 | Valeria Wilde

A cool hunting experience on the streets of La Paz, a photo essay by Valeria Wilde Valerie Monic... 18 Gabriela Flores, 25 Rodrigo Villanueva, 17 Ramiro Buitrago, 20