Back in La Paz and this time we were staying closer to the downtown area at a hostel called the Adventure Brew. The lure of a free beer each day was very tempting. So after we arrived we high-tailed it straight to the bar, but unfortunately the free beer wasn't available until 8pm. We bought one anyway and drank over some internet time.
When 8 rolled around we went to collect our free beer and have dinner, which was in the bar of the hostel's other location a few doors down. For some reason their tap wasn't flowing properly so we ended up with a warm, flat free beer which we had to force down while waiting for our dinner inside the smoky bar (yes, they still allow smoking in bars and restaurants in Bolivia!).
The next day was our anniversary, and the hostel had advertised that they ran a beer tour. We couldn't think of a better way to spend the day than an afternoon tasting the brewed delights of La Paz, but unfortunately the tour didn't go ahead as there was no one else interested (how is this possible?).
Our day was therefore very uneventful. It was too late to go on any tours so we roamed the artesanal shops, drank coffee and not much else. For diner we treated ourselves to a yummy dinner in a Swiss fondue restaurant, with chicken fondue and steak on a hot stone. The best part about this restaurant was the sauces! They had about 20 different flavour sauces that you could help yourself to.
The next day entailed some more wandering, to a park that had some theme park rides and a sprawling area of market stalls though most weren't open yet for the day. In the late afternoon we joined a tour to see one of the greatest attractions of La Paz, the Cholitas Wrestling!
A bus took us up the hill and out of La Paz into El Alto. We were taken to a crumbling old concrete sporting arena, and stepping inside was like stepping into a refrigerator, it was freezing! A wrestling ring was set up in the middle, along with a runway and a curtain from which the wrestlers would appear. Plastic chairs and a crappy wooden grandstand were set up for the tourists, while the locals all sat on a concrete grandstand, well prepared with countless blankets to wrap themselves in.
What are Cholitas? Well, picture Bolivian women, about 5 foot tall, with 2 long plats down their backs. They are wearing tradition dress, of multi-layered lacy skirts, nice lacy tops and sandals. They look very feminine and harmless, until they get in a ring…
But before the Cholitas appeared, the men appeared first. Think Jack Black in Nacho Libre. Overweight men in stretchy pants and wrestling masks, with their skinny sidekicks. There was Elvis, Santa Claus and the Grinch, a zombie, a rat, you name it! The wrestling is of course terribly amateur but still highly entertaining and included some really impressive throws and moves.
Then came the Cholitas. As they were introduced they appeared with their hats and shawls, placing them carefully ringside while smiling sweetly for the audience, but the sweetness ended there.
While the women's tricks and throws were perhaps not quite as good as the men's, they did come damn close in their skirts that must weight a few kgs! They were also far more entertaining, at one point stealing drinks from the crowd to throw and spit at each other. It seemed to get quite out of hand for a while! It was a ridiculous and hilarious way to spend an evening in La Paz.