It was yet another awesome Airbnb experience. The home owner’s daughter had invited us out in La Paz, Bolivia, to go to a festival called Alasitas with her French friends.
Speaking a mixture of French, English and Spanish we caught a taxi 20 minutes from Valle de la Luna to the centre of La Paz where the festival was spread over a wide area, little stalls popped up everywhere.
The festival of Alasitas
Alisitas is all about celebrating abundance for the year ahead and runs for three weeks over January and February.
You purchase all your friends and family want for the coming year ahead – a house, money, a marriage certificate, a diploma – you name it, you can get it. And then you carry it all home in a small plastic bag.
How is that possible? Because you buy all these objects in miniature form.
The tradition of Alasitas
To wish your friends and family abundance, you give them these miniature figurines in the hope that they’ll get what they want in the year ahead. And they give you gifts in return.
Alasitas is a strange mish-mash of modern day consumerism and a traditional even originally named Chhalasita which begun hundreds of years ago.
With elements of Catholicism, the idea is that you offer your miniatures to both your friends and to an overweight, cigar smoking Andean God called Ekeko.
Our visit to Alasitas
As we walked through the festival, we saw hens which are to be given to men looking for a wife, building equipment that can be offered to Ekeko if you’re wanting to build a house, and little figurines of people working at operating tables (to become a doctor), lecturing (to become a teacher) and drawing (to become an architect).
The smells of fried cows heart pulled us away from one stall and our brave French friends tried the meat, which is eaten on a kebab along with potatoes. “Delicious!” they exclaimed.
Recently vegetarian, I wasn’t game enough to try it.
I was open to eating the churros though, which were served up in a paper cone with icing sugar for 6 bolivianos (US$0.84c).
Miniatures at Alisitas
Munching on the churros, Dave came across a stall that sold miniature crates of beer. “I have to get one,” he said.
“For an abundance of beer this year!”
And so he bought his miniature crate which doubled as a bottle opener for 10 bolivianos (US$1.40).
I was on the hunt for prosperity for our newly-founded writing business. Hoping to freelance more to make a full income and not having to rely on our savings until they run out, I guess what I was looking for money.
“I found it!” I excitedly told our friends as I came across a suitcase full of money, plane tickets, an Apple computer and iPhone.
What better to explain our love of travel and our plans to make money from both travel and freelance work (this is where the computer came in).
I bought my little suitcase for 5 bolivianos (US0.70c).
Fun at Alasitas
Of course, a festival wouldn’t be a festival without games to play.
We headed over to the gaming area, housed under a number of tents, and found a large area dedicated to fusbol. We spent a good half hour competing against each other with squeals of delight.
Afterwards, we retired to a bar where we swapped gifts, giving each other money and wishing each other abundance for the coming year.
I loved this little tradition of Alisitas. You might not be a believer but sometimes what you receive is what you get. Our Airbnb host’s sister told us that she gave a baby in a cot to her daughter. That year she fell pregnant with her first child.
No one gave us a baby (thankfully – not yet!) but we did receive lots of cash so fingers are crossed that this year will be one of abundance for us and beer for Dave.