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Day 36 – Ethnics at the Plaza and Museo

November 15, 2010

Location:  La Paz, Bolivia

Date:  Monday, November 15, 2010

La Paz is a mix of the new and the old. Young adults with iPods walk with their mothers in traditional dress. Glass high rises sit blocks from shanty towns. Internet cafes are just steps away from the old remedies of the Witches Market. Old men chomp on wads of coca leaf while, at late night club Route 36, foreigners take a more refined form of the stimulant through their noses.

I got a better feel of all that today walking through Plaza Murillo, a square which fronts government buildings and museums. As the city’s main square it attracts tourists and those who prey on them. Dignitaries and business men shuffle through while indigenous women work their stands.

A block and a half away is the Museo Nacional de Ethnografia y Folklore which doesn’t need much translation. Inside you can pull out drawers containing old pieces of cloth from various indigenous tribes. Even though the guards won’t let you take pictures, it seems they have no problem with you touching the artifact. Even though all the signs are in Spanish, it’s well worth the $2 USD price of admission.

The museum is a nod at the diverse cultures that have lived within the borders of modern Bolivia. Same goes for the Wiphala, the pixilated multi-color flag that by recent constitutional decree must fly next to the traditional Bolivian flag.

One can only hope that Bolivia takes steps towards modernity and prosperity. It would be nice to, for example, be able to flush toilet paper down the toilet or have the average daily wage be more than what a poor American earns in an hour.

That said, here’s to hoping that the people don’t forget their roots, abandon their native languages, or all start wearing Diesel jeans. That nifty flag seems like a good start.

A Random Picture – A Featured Pic That’s Cool But Doesn’t Fit The Narrative

GALLERY: No bonus pics today.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 20, 2010 10:18 pm

    I don’t know how new that flag is, but it wasn’t in evidence in 2002! At least, not in Santa Cruz or Cochabamba.

    When you get out in the countryside, look for the Quechua women in the “top-hats” plastered in white, often with a black hat-band. Very nice. The derby hats are on the Aymara.

    The other thing to look for is for plowmen behind a couple of bullocks with the wooden, single-share plow tied to their horns….. That was still being done in 2002 – although the plowmen were often dressed in jeans rather than homespun, and were listening to a Walkman! We didn’t see any of THAT in the ’70s……

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