A dried llama for Pachamama

The first presentation of our GSE group to the Rotary Club in La Paz went pretty well last week, despite my sudden inability to breathe enough to say more than one or two words at a time. I blame that on the pressures of public speaking at extreme altitudes. Probably the next sport to be added to the X-Games.

During dinner, Sylvana (one of the Bolivians visiting Seattle in the other half of this international exchange) and fellow GSE-er Mark told me about the indigenous rituals that have to take place before any type of construction (roads, buildings, houses, ditches) can go on. The rituals involve prayers, offerings, and often the burial of a dried llama fetus. For good luck, obviously.

If none of the proper cultural initiatives take place, either the construction workers (who are usually indigenous) will strike, or if it’s built anyway, no indigenous persons will enter that building. You gotta pay your respects to Pachamama, the Bolivian version of Gaia or Mother Earth.

In case you’re wondering where one buys such things as dried llama fetuses, look no further than the Mercado de las Brujas, or Witch’s Market, in La Paz.

(Photos to come when I find non-dial-up internet!)

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