advertisement

At times, it feels as though La Paz is one big shopping center. The streets teem with vendors peddling everything you can imagine. The city is a mecca for handmade arts-and-crafts products. Calle Sagárnaga is shopper's central, with thousands of stores all packed to the gills with local handicrafts. In general, most of the quality is mediocre, but the variety and uniqueness of the goods sold here is impressive. Some of the more popular items include alpaca sweaters (usually about Bs62-Bs77 each), hand-woven shoulder bags, leather bags, wool hats, textiles, and gloves. ComArt, Calle Linares 958, is the only association of organized workers in La Paz. When you buy something here, your money goes directly to the workers, not the shopkeepers. If you're trying to find some differences between all the stores in the area, here's a tip: The best quality alpaca sweaters in town can be found at Walisuma, Av. Mariscal Santa Cruz 938. On the other side of town, you'll find beautiful silver jewelry at Kuka Pradel, Av. 6 de Agosto 2190. For highly intricate handcrafted Andean festival masks, don't miss Mama Coca, Pasaje Jimenez 872, between Santa Cruz and Linares. For maps of every type -- city, hiking, trekking, and road maps -- hit up the Way Maker Map Shop, Calle Illampu 897 near Sagarnaga. The city's Black Market is a few blocks uphill from the heart of Sagárnaga, past Max Paredes; you'll find a lot of action around Calle La Gasca and Eloy Salmón.

The Witches' Market -- Venture off Calle Sagárnaga onto Calle Linares and you'll find yourself in the appropriately named Witches' Market, which runs during daylight hours. Here, you can buy a ghoulish variety of charms, spices, and magic potions to help cast a positive spell on your future. Llama fetuses are one of the most popular items for sale here. If you're looking for luck, here's a list to help you decode the meaning of all the amulets on display: Frogs are said to bring good fortune; turtles are the symbol of long life; owls bring knowledge; snakes are a sign of progression (or moving in the right direction); koa -- a dried plant made with molasses -- is supposed to help your harvest; and pumas will help you achieve victory over your enemy.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.