Wrestling with a Sunday in La Paz

10 Aug

Sunday in La Paz is the day of the “Cholitas Wrestling”.

It’s a La Paz institution which takes place in El Alto, the upper part of La Paz where most of the population resides.

“Cholita” originally meant a person of mixed race but today it is sometimes taken to mean a person of “inadequate behaviour”.

Now I’m not a fan of wrestling but decided this was something that had to be seen to be believed so I boarded the bus up to “La Ceja” to see what it was all about.

The arena was very basic.  It was more like an old sport’s hall than anything else.  It was packed with locals who brought along their children.  The show started at about 4.30 Bolivian time, ie 5pm.

The “compere” introduced the wrestlers with much aplomb.  And first up was a man in a bright green suit pitted against a beautiful cholita adorned in her bowler hat, beautiful shawl and wonderful flowing skirt.  The hat and her earrings came off for the fight.

The wrestling itself is largely staged as you might imagine. The emphasis throughout though is on the underdog winning and on each occasion while at first it seemed that the cholita might lose to her opponent this never happens.  Seemed to me like a bit of a victory for girl power in what appears, otherwise, to be a machismo society.  The referee also gets involved in each fight, usually against the cholita.  What’s funny is that the guy who does the refereeing then later comes back out in a wrestling suit as a wrestler…this is spit and sawdust entertainment at its best!!!

The crowd also gets well into it.  They throw tomatoes, crisps, empty water bottles and other things into the ring which are then seized upon by the wrestlers and used as “weapons” against  opponents.  The “coach” also got involved at one part. She was dressed in a a beautiful flowing skirt and a tracksuit top and was pretending to coach a child who randomly was also part of the show.  The little kid had on a weird mask and dungarees and the cholita took great joy in picking him up by the straps of his dungarees (ouch!) and smacking him!!!!

At one point one of the wrestlers picked up a huge tub of crisps and threw these onto an opponent.  At another point one of the wrestlers took a water bottle from a spectator, took some water and then sprayed it back out over the crowd!

Three hours later and it was time to leave. although the fighting was still ongoing and the locals were still loving it.  It is something worth seeing but for me the only word which sprang to my mind when I saw these little ladies in pretty clothes wrestling was “random”!!


One Response to “Wrestling with a Sunday in La Paz”

  1. Gus and Eileen Paterson August 17, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Hi Angie, been reading through your blog – at last – I lost the contact details, your mum was over the other day and left them for me. Great to see you are enjoying life, you are quite right – a year out is a brilliant idea, you would have regretted it if you hadn’t done it, follow the dream….
    Christine was on asking when you will get to New Zealand, I just said ‘when she arrives’
    You are doing a lot of what everyone would have loved to do, just take care and enjoy!! lots of love from Eileen and Gus xx

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