The festival of Alasitas in La Paz, Bolivia

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.

Miniature food at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

A stall full of miniature food at Alisitas

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.

Miniature stalls at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Miniature food stalls made with real bread at Alisitas

 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.

Alisitas Gods La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Miniature versions of the Andean God 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.

cooking beef heart at Alasitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

A woman cooks beef heart at a street stall at Alasitas

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).

Churros at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Me with my delicious churros at Alasitas

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.

“What for?”

“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).

Dave with Miniature crate of beer at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Dave with his miniature crate of beer

Miniature crate of beer at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Dave’s miniature crate of beer up close

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.

Suitcase of money and laptop La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

My little case of cash, computer, phone and airline tickets

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).

Miniatures at Alasitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Other miniatures at Alasitas

 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.

Foosball at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

The boys play the girls at foosball

Foosball at Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

The girls play the boys at foosball

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.

Money from Alisitas La Paz Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Some of the cash we were given in the spirit of Alasitas

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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