With high expectations, we went up to El Alto Sunday morning to visit the weekly “16 de Julio Mercado”. It must be the biggest market we have ever been to, since it seemed as if all of El Alto had turned into a huge market. Though the products for sale were not very attractive for us, you could actually find anything from white mice, building material, second hand clothes, food, DVDs for 0.4 Euros and what not …
There were masses of people moving every which way and soon we became tired of being shoved around. We were the only tourists there and often suspiciously looked at. So we decided to look for a viewpoint to take nice photos of La Paz from above. We walked and walked and never came even near the very rim. After asking a lady where the “Mirador” was, we were told to take a certain bus. Once we arrived there, it was not much of a view so we bussed back to the center of El Alto and then down into “the big bowl” again.
In the afternoon we bussed up to El Alto again in order to watch the popular “Lucha Libre”, a rather bizarre kind of show wrestling that takes place every Sunday. It starts around 04:00 pm with rather inexperienced man wrestling man, woman wrestling woman and then builds up, when around 06:00 the big stars enter the arena, men and women.
The venue is a multifunctional gym and the place was packed with local people who took this very serious. Some of the wrestlers are real celebrities and people hold out their kids to have a photo taking with them. All the wrestlers are clad in grotesque costumes, a mummy, a skeleton, a “Cholita”, a soldier… They are very athletic, otherwise them would not survive the constant banging of their bodies on the floor.
We went there because it is a real local event, but found it rather ridiculous watching people in disguise hitting each other. Even though most of it is show, injuries are common, like fractures or dislocated shoulders as the person sitting next to Heidi told her. In order to show disapproval visitors throw oranges, plastic bottles or the content of the bottles at the fighters, who then throw them back. This can turn into a messy affair, for instance the lens of our camera was sprayed with coca-cola, or especially when fighters leave the arena and continue their fight near or even inside the visitors’ area, which always causes major excitement.