Bolivia...Highland cultures


Bolivia is the reflection of a past that is rich in rituals, cultures, traditions. All these brought together in a diverse geographical space, a space in which day by day, in spite of everything, a vibrant culture can be perceived. To know her not only implies traveling across her isolated places, her cities and small towns; to know her really means to know what her people do, what they think, what they feel and why they do so.


Festivals in Bolivia are generally pagan and are expressed by means of rituals and dances, these are motivated by the Faith/Belief that any one of the desires of prosperity can be granted. According to a religious Cosmo Vision, pre-Hispanic cultures are revealed through their deities and gods; one of the oldest being the Pachamama, to whom tribute is given by means of the ch’alla. Religious syncretism is represented by the union of these practices, with the catholic religion and the patron saints. Each village has a date set aside to celebrate their Saint also known as “Chicus Mass”. After the mass, the parishioners go out in a procession. With the passing of time many changes have occurred. For example: the Oruro Carnival now opens with a “Folkloric Festival .” Spectators enjoy a colorful parade of folkloric dances in devotion to the Socavon Virgin. Over the years dances styles change and the costumes are modified. Festivals in the east of Bolivia have more passive processions such as long walks. In the Chaco area, the festivals that take place are not accompanied by alcoholic beverages, a procession is carried out and regional products are sold, this practice is different from all the other festivals in Bolivia.


The variety and flavors of Bolivian cuisine are directly related to its varied geography and climate. From north to south, from east to west, each city, each village has its unmistakable flavor. Cochabamba, a district unlike others, is a city is characterized by its sophisticated Bolivian gastronomy. It succeeds in uniting and combining aromas, flavors and sensations guaranteed to tickle the palate. Cochabamba is the gastronomical city par excellence. Amongst the more popular dishes and treats found are the hearty corn beverage api served hot with a delicate pastel (thin fried pastry), salteñas (a juicy meat pie), sausages, stuffed potato, chank’a de pollo (chicken stew) , picante de pollo (spicy chicken), lawas (thick soups), pique macho (a diced mix of meats, potatoes and vegetables), chicharron (fried chicken or pork), charque (dried meat), huminta (corn pastry), puchero (mixed meat stew), cinnamon popsicles, pampaku (a variety of baked meats), silpancho (chicken fried steak), trancapecho (a big silpancho sandwich), lapping (roast beef), anticucho (beef heart/potato shish kabob), etc.; and all other Bolivian flavors are present.


Pachamama is the supreme goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes . Pachamama means "Mother Earth" in the native Quechua language. She is considered to be the mother who provides life, food, and protection. Rituals for the Pachamama are characterized by the burial of cooked food, coca leaves, grains and corn flour, cigarettes, and chicha to nourish the mother earth. People toast to her honor before every meeting or festivity, often spilling a small amount of their drink on the floor before downing the rest. Burnt offerings (q´owa) are also made in which they ask for good health, money, good fortune in business and work. Celebrations for the Pachamama include a respect for all living things, for they are not only the fruit of her creation but also form part of the Pachamama herself.


The Andean Cosmo Vision is the relationship between the human being -runa- and all material and nonmaterial things that surround him from the beginning of time and throughout the evolution of all things. It is not exclusive, rather everyone evolves and fulfills a permanent role; the Andean Cosmo Vision is fundamentally based on a “Unity” of the cosmos, nature and family. The sacred symbols of this culture are essential guides in our evolution. They suggest a life well organized in the service of others and not of oneself nor of selfish individual interests. All is a holistic “Oneness” in unity. People change, but Andean wisdom does not, nor will it change, for it has remained on the sidelines without being in the least bit affected. This Andean Cosmo Vision is explained in the most objective manner from a mental point of view that is psychic and evolutionary, because a Unity cannot be separated. To live the Andean Cosmo Vision is to live a balanced and humane lifestyle. Any harm inflicted on another being halts evolution. This evolution and all our actions are recorded in our conscience; thus, we are responsible and we are judges of our actions as we pass from one stage to another.

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