La Paz has many obscure places to visit. One of them is the city of the dead. An entire neighborhood has been set up where people are buried in urns in small windows of large buildings. Houses full of niches can accommodate more than a hundred dead residents.
Whoever is being remembered is written behind panes, and the families deposit schnapps or sweets that the dead person probably still likes to eat. The graffiti on the walls are particularly impressive, depicting scenes related to death in a sad and beautiful way.
Perhaps these are the same artists who decorated the colorful streets of the old town; maybe there’s a big scene behind it that has all my admiration. Quiet and beautiful, this city lies in the midst of the turbulent city.
The colors associated with death are strongly reminiscent of Mexican art, which is particularly evident on dia de las muertos with colorful costumes and paintings.
There are small niches and large ones decorated with pictures of the deceased, obituaries, Bible verses and the sweets that the deceased liked best.
We can also get here by cable car. The red line has a station just outside the City of the Dead. We walk through this district all day long and cannot help but be amazed.
We see graffiti decorating the end of a block of urns and then some that cover an entire wall of a house.
There is also a small quarter reserved for the rich with the mausoleums. A large structure houses the ashes of deceased police officers.
After our breakdown at 4703 meters we have plenty of time to get to know La Paz. This city fascinates and shows us many of its faces. We see the contrasts of modernity and tradition on every corner. Through the teleféricos we can easily get to any part of the city and see the full extent of it and its mountains above the clouds.
On the streets we see business people next to traditionally dressed women, the cholitas that give La Paz its special personal character. These tradition-conscious women are also business-savvy, running kiosks for newspapers and fruit, but also magical paraphernalia for everyday spells. And they can fight!
The streets of La Paz are lined with high-rise glass buildings and crumbling old buildings. However, you can find incredibly beautiful street art in all neighborhoods. The artist quarter with its market is characterized by special graffiti. But the city’s huge cemetery, the Cementario General de La Paz, is not only a place of rest for the dead, but a small town in its own right, in which the deceased are commemorated with sadly beautiful murals.
As we leave the city, our car struggles again with the steep incline and altitude. Finally we reach the legendary Lake Titicaca via the Altiplano and stumble upon the traces of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki.