Mercado de Hechicería
- Jiménez & Linares Rosario
Lonely Planet review for Mercado de Hechicería
The city's most unusual market, 'Witches' Market', lies amid lively tourist artesanía (local handcraft) shops. What they're selling isn't exactly witchcraft in the Hollywood sense; the merchandise is mainly herbs and folk remedies, as well as a few more unorthodox ingredients intended to manipulate the various spirits worshipped by the local Aymará people.
If you're building a new house, for example, you can buy a llama fetus to bury beneath the cornerstone as a cha'lla (offering) to Pachamama, encouraging her to inspire good luck therein. This practice is strictly for poor campesinos, however; wealthier Bolivians are expected to sacrifice a fully functioning llama. If someone is feeling ill, or is being pestered by unwelcome or bothersome spooks, they can purchase a plateful of colorful herbs, seeds and assorted critter parts to remedy the problem.
As you pass the market stalls, watch for wandering yatiri (witch doctors), who wear dark hats and carry coca pouches, and circulate through the area offering fortune telling services. Photographs taken here may be met with unpleasantness - unless you are a customer and ask politely first.