Street vendors are everywhere in La Paz adding vibrancy and culture to the already colorful, hectic streets. You can pretty much buy anything on the street ranging from beautiful handicrafts and hand-woven goods to magazines, drinks, food and anything your heart desires inside the black market.
The life of a street vendor is not an easy one. Most open up their green-colored stalls around nine or ten o’clock in the morning and close well after ten at night. The majority of street vendors are women who have no other choice but to bring their babies and young children with them for a long day and night on the street. They eat at their stalls, watch their children play and sleep at the stalls, and spend most of the time sitting there hoping for a customer so they can make enough money to survive.
I found the life to be a hard yet was amazed at their perseverance by coming day after day to the same spot for well over twelve hours to sell what they could to feed their families. I was heartbroken by the mothers with young kids crying or sleeping at their weary feet. But in a country of high unemployment, at least these women had some income to provide for their family. And the products they sold were lovely.
The neighborhood we stayed in was located in the heart of the Witches Market, a huge tourist attraction in La Paz. I enjoyed watching some of the street vendors set up and close their stalls each day. I enjoyed taking photos of them even more.
Every morning this woman would open her small stall around nine o’clock, right outside our hotel door. She had a beautiful collection of handicrafts and also sold bottled water which was very helpful. Her location couldn’t be better given the high volume of customers in the hotel next door.
Our street was overwhelmingly colorful with street vendors and stores winding up the narrow cobblestone road. It was a burst of color for my weary Midwestern eyes.
There were so many choices it was hard to narrow it down.
I saw relatively few male street vendors however this man was out there everyday along with the ladies selling his wares.
I also saw lots of street vendors selling fresh drinks and various kinds of street food. I was very curious to try one however I didn’t want to risk an upset stomach.
My favorite street vendor of all was this woman who sat at the busy bright corner of our street. It was so incredibly colorful that it made me smile.
I could have spent days simply wandering the streets in search of color and light. After a wintery month at home in Minnesota, the streets of La Paz were instant eye candy.
Stay tuned….my next series of photos will be on the beautiful woman of La Paz. I tried to capture their marvelous traditional dress and long-braided hair as much as possible.