Coca leaves and Yampara ladies in Tarabuco Bolivia

Lady vendor with wares Tarabuco Bolivia

boy standing by wall, tarabuco, bolivia

Left to his own devices as his parents are working

Sunday Market In Tarabuco

Tipped off by my Spanish teacher in Sucre, we made our way to the nearby town of Tarabuco on a Sunday to sample a bit of the Yampara culture and to roam a typical Bolivian sunday market.

Being lazy as I am, I am filled with the utmost respect for many of the vendors who have walked 3 or 4 hours across the mountain to sell their wares at the market. The high altitude has me panting just popping the lid off a can of Pringles.

Ladies in traditional garb sit with their wares displayed in front of them, a riot of colourful fabrics and handicrafts, and men selling stationary and mending shoes, and yet more stalls selling all manner of daily goods and foodstuff, and of course, the ubiquitous coca leaves. A little away from the tourist oriented stalls, there was a section where barter trade was still being practiced.

Many of the Yampara people, hailing from Bolivia’s central highlands, especially the ones living a more rural and isolated life in the campo, speak Quechua (the language of the Incas) in place of Spanish.

As I tried to make sense of the transactions going on before me, I got thinking that this great street market tradition spans cultures and eras, and just about every culture has its own version, from the great Djemma el-fna in Marrakech, to the Ubud Market in Bali, where people come together not only to trade goods and services but often also gossip and news.

little girl selling drinks tarabuco bolivia

Other kids have work to do, in the case of this little girl, selling syrupy drinks

electrical cables with birds nests tarabuco bolivia

Birds nests on electrical cables

ladies leaving church on sunday, tarabuco, bolivia

Bearing freshly blessed flowers, leaving Sunday mass at Parroquia de San Pedro

lady selling coca leaves, tarabuco, bolivia

Coca leaves, illegal everywhere in the world apart from Bolivia and Peru, are ubiquitous in markets. A traditional hunger suppressant, energy booster and altitude sickness remedy, coca leaves are synonymous with the Andean culture

men hammering on anvil, tarabuco, bolivia

A metal working hammering on an anvil in the marketplace

fat lady selling goods, tarabuco, bolivia

Everyday goods for sale

old lady selling wares, tarabuco sunday market, bolivia

Preparing the distinctive Maiz Morado, or purple corn

man carrying goods bolivia

Looking around in the marketplace

boy and donkey, tarabuco sunday market, bolivia

A boy and his donkey cuts a striking figure at the market

kids playing table football, tarabuco, bolivia

Elsewhere, kids entertain themselves with table football

I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.