by Logan Pratico
Every day is a new adventure when you live in Bolivia. Whether its a 12 hour bus ride to Sucre with no AC and windows that won’t open, or simply a night out at dinner at Da Vinci Pizzeria (yes it is just as good, if not better than pizza back home), the days never fail to disappoint. However, the most interesting, and exhausting experience is without a doubt a trip to La Cancha, the third largest outdoor market in South America.
Located less then 10 minutes from my house, La Cancha is the one stop shop for everything. From computers to dried llama fetuses. But it is not a place that you want to go alone for your first time. Spanning 9 blocks by 8 blocks and filled to the brim with Bolivians, La Cancha might as well have a warning label that reads “You will get lost.”
My first trip to La Cancha was a lot like my first experience watching the movie Trainspotting: completely surreal, a little bit scary at some points, and I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. Fortunately, I had a large group of volunteers to guide me through it.
As I prepared to step into La Cancha, I suddenly felt the slam of an arm across my chest. “Crossing the street in La Cancha is an art,” Julie, another volunteer, explained as she mom-armed me before I stepped into the street. “You have to look once, twice, and then a third time,” she said as we quickly sprinted across the street trying not to get hit by one of the many micro buses that don’t seem to want to obey the traffic laws.
The next 2 hours were a blur of unbelievable products for sale, delicious food, and haggling with vendors. Between everyone trying to sell you everything that you can think of and the fact that you constantly have to monitor your wallet to both thieves and your own spending habits, La Cancha can be a pretty exhausting trip. In the end we had lost about half of the group, but finding them would have been like finding a needle in a haystack, so we headed home to rest our tired bodies. It was truly an unforgettable experience.