Witches market (Drive Day 187: Jan 2, 2004)

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You only think you’ve seen street markets until you duck into La Cancha – so big it devours an entire section of central Cochabamba, so famous (or infamous) you better keep your hands on your wallet and try not to look like a tourist.


Margit hustles us through a maze of tarp-covered alleys to the Witches market, reportedly the biggest in South America. This isn’t any Harry Potter, Halloween-kitsch superstore. It’s where you buy q’owa – custom, burnable representations of whatever in your life needs a spell to fix. Which, in our case, is the flooded-out road over which we need to drive a rapidly disintegrating old camper. I’m a believer as soon as I see a green sugar mold of a camper van enough like ours to be more than coincidence.

0102e.jpgIt’s the dried, self-aborted llama fetuses that give me pause but Margit insists the newspaper funnel concoction wouldn’t be complete without all the traditional ingredients.

0102dI relax on the crowded bus ride home – everyone else’s q’owas have stiff little llama legs sticking out the top as well. Don dons his best pointy hat to set our q’owa on fire and “bless” our camper with its billowing smoke. Abracadabra; let’s hope this works.






0102g.jpgFollow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

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