Sorcery revives Bolivian tourism at Witches Market fair
La Paz, Oct 7 (EFE).- Crafts, food, music and the mysticism of the patrimonial Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market, in Bolivia are part of a municipal activity that seeks to reactivate tourism and economic activity in the city hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
La Paz streets Linares and Melchor Jimenez, where the market is located, were closed Thursday to vehicle traffic to give exclusive access to pedestrians who want to enjoy the “Space in Motion” with the offer of “Chiflera” artisans, who use medicinal plants to practise ancestral rituals.
It is “an area destined for pedestrians and economic reactivation with an injection of cultural influence,” said Diego Castro, head of the Organization Unit’s Urban and Rural Development and the Municipal Planning Secretariat.
“We have managed to enable this area that was previously a little neglected by our internal public, by our own citizens,” he said.
According to Castro, before the pandemic, the so-called Pasaje de las Brujas had “between 80 to 120 commercial activities related to tourism and the sale of handicrafts to tourists.”
“At the most critical moment of the pandemic, there were like 40 commercial activities with very little influx,” he said.
Although activity has returned to the place, it has not yet fully recovered, so the Mayor’s Office thought about reactivating it with this urban intervention, he added.
The streets were taken for the open exhibition of handicrafts such as the traditional aguayos or fabrics woven by indigenous people, clothing made with camelid fiber, dolls characterized with typical and folk costumes, paintings and ceramics.
The Chifleras lit incense or burned aromatic wood in braziers to attract attention to their stores, where they mainly offered items to make offerings to the “Pachamama” or Mother Earth.
Some restaurants and pubs in the area also joined the initiative with tables to serve diners on the street and there was no lack of music in two stages installed in different parts of Calle Linares.
The Witches Market “Espacio en Movimiento” is the third one promoted by the La Paz Mayor’s Office, which already opened one in July in the Sopocachi area and another in August in the southern neighborhood of San Miguel, both with gastronomic themes.
“The objective is that this type of tactical urbanism be replicated in time (…) that it be a revitalized space for pedestrians and for our artisans,” Castro said.
The activity will be repeated Friday. EFE