When I arrived in Sucre, I quickly figured out that the thing to do on Sunday is go to the Tarabuco market.
I heard that the fruits and veggies are cheap, and you can buy tejidos (weavings) and those ugly sweaters all the backpackers in Bolivia are wearing.
Although it is easy to take a local bus, I went on a tour and learned that Tarabuco is much more than a cheap Sunday market.
On the way to Tarabuco, we stopped to get some photos of the gorgeous mountains.
This area is very important because it is the site where the Tarabuqueños won an important battle against the Spanish in 1816 in the long fight for independence. The Sunday Market in Tarabuco is to honor those who fought in that battle.
I thought about buying this. It was less than US$5, but I didn’t think it would travel well.
Our guide Erica walked us through the seemingly-endless maze of streets at this sprawling market, explaining important aspects of the culture and their traditions. This is one of the most original cultures in Bolivia, and it has not changed over time.
The majority of Bolivians, including the indigenous people, are Catholic (which came from Spanish colonial times), but what is most interesting is that the indigenous still believe in other gods, specifically Pachamama or Tierra Madre (Mother Earth).
The photo below shows an offering to Pachamama. These offerings include objects made of sugar (e.g. a house), and they are burned in hopes that the person will receive whatever is symbolized in the offering.
Tarabuqueños Love Hats
And they are known for having their own specific style. My favorite is the flashy hat a single woman wears when she is “on the market.”
The style of tejidos, or weavings, are also specific to Tarabuco. Different colors and animals are used for each style. I was surprised at how expensive these are, but they take weeks to make.
On the other side of town, there is an animal auction. I never would have known about it without a guide.
I think this bull is “confused.”
After checking out the market, I had lunch at Samay Wasi where they perform traditional dancing. Yes, this is totally put on for the tourists, but it was enjoyable and something I had not yet seen.
Isn’t she beautiful?
And this little boy did such a great job. I would have had such stage fright at his age (or even now).
Take a Tour!
You can go on your own to Tarabuco, but if you want to learn more about the culture and get some good photo opportunities, check out a tour with Joy Ride. Their office is located on the main plaza.