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El Alto, Day 24

That’s the great thing about my job: I get to get up early (in this case at 5:30 am) and see the sunrise. We drove up to El Alto (at 4,050 meters) before the Teleferrico (cable car) left to take photos at the market, Mercado Murillo, without strong sunlight. It was early and cold.

I was wearing 6 layers on top of each other, but it was still cold. After the first shots, we treated ourselves to a tea and a roll in a breakfast bar, while the market was raging outside.

This market was more like a wholesale market, with masses of either pumpkins, bananas or pineapples and many other things being sold, papaya straight out of a truck. I am very happy about the situations I found. Many indigenous people sell their produce at this market, and many of them didn’t want to be photographed. Nevertheless, the yield is good.
The young woman downstairs had a lot of fun with her neighbors, especially when Damián and I came to the aid of an old man whose sack of onions had fallen off his handcart. Of course … we couldn’t really help because the sack was so incredibly heavy. This scene was a lot of fun!
This young woman had been breastfeeding her son in the back of the picture. Breastfeeding is a completely normal part of life here, even when we were talking to her, this act was taking place on the side.
Apart from that, you can say that these markets seem like a big chaos, it is a huge hustle and bustle and in the middle of it all there are cars without end, which like to overtake each other in order to bring everything to a standstill. Unfortunately, they blow out unbelievable amounts of exhaust fumes right at the level of the market women. I can still feel the exhaust fumes in my throat.

And then again, because it’s so great: the view of the city of La Paz.

Today I finally treated myself to a great restaurant: Manq’a, not far from my hotel. Manq’a means food in Aymara, the second indigenous language up here in the mountains.

Manq’a is a social restaurant that celebrates national products. They work with young chefs who are trained in Manq’a schools in El Alto and Sucre, Bolivia. The restaurants are the result of a social project in which around 700 young people in precarious situations are trained as chefs, enhancing Bolivian agri-food identity and promoting healthy eating in their families and communities. All profits generated by the restaurant are reinvested in the social project. That’s great!

The food is also great, excellent cuisine!
I would be happy to describe it in more detail here:
Sopita de mani Manq’a
traditional peanut soup, served with local potato chips and parsley oil
Main course:
Surubí con quinua
fried Amazonian fish with lemongrass, tucupi, yucca cream, quinoa with citrus fruits, fresh cheese with spinach, fresh leaves and edible flowers
Paleta amazónica
Asai ice cream popsicle filled with passion fruit candy, almond base, dehydrated chili and dehydrated chilto and edible flowers

It was great!

This menu cost 11.50 euros without drinks.
And then something else that’s important on a trip like this: because I either don’t understand the languages properly or can’t assess the situation accurately because I’ve never experienced it before, I often have to trust that everything will be fine. I have to trust people who want to tell me something or show me something. As you know, this has gone wrong with the hairdresser, but with a cobbler, for example: I trust that he will “treat” my shoes and do so in a good way, but I’ll have to wait and see. I hope that he is a good craftsman and will repair my shoes well. It’s the same in restaurants when I ask if there really isn’t any tap water in the juice or on the bus when the driver says please go in that direction and it only becomes clear why when you arrive. I trust these people, prudently of course, but I see the benefit as a gift, better than being suspicious. That’s what traveling is all about for me.


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