RELEASE DATE: 21 Dec, 2017

EDITORIAL BY Caroline Risacher

In the West, Christmas is a fusion of pagan and Christian celebrations. In Bolivia, end-of-year festivities coincide with the arrival of the rainy season and the summer solstice, events that were vital for the agricultural pre-Columbian civilisations that ruled the continent. Today, the combination of Christian and indigenous traditions makes for a very special type of holiday, with a syncretism that manifests itself in parades and traditional indigenous dances performed in front of pesebres. One of our Bolivian Express elves, Charles Bladon, explores the intricacies of a Bolivian Christmas on page 22.

Indeed, an essential element of Bolivian culture and celebration is dancing. The holiday season is punctuated with parades, carnivals and opportunities to perform dances learned in school. But in this fastpaced world that we live in, different cultures and celebrations have become intertwined, their meanings sometimes lost and often hidden behind layers of newer traditions.

Traditional dances evolve and slowly start to lose their original essence. The Ballet de Bolivia attempts to preserve the primary meaning behind these traditions by combining classical ballet techniques with indigenous Bolivian dance. Fruzsina Gál interviews Jimmy Calla Montoya, the company’s founder and the driving force behind these efforts, on page 30.

In this issue of Bolivian Express, the last of the year, we want to celebrate Bolivia and its ancient, vibrant and evolving culture. And we are looking at it through the eyes of a new generation of Bolivian artists such as the pop singer Andoro in addition to culinary pioneers and entrepreneurs who are putting Bolivia in the forefront of their projects. Daisy Lucker takes a look at the new restaurant

Popular, which puts a modern and inspired twist on Bolivian cuisine in the historical centre of the city. And it’s quite a success, as the restaurant’s founders deliver on their inspired idea to provide contemporary Bolivian food made by Bolivians with Bolivian products. Another entrepreneur, hotel Atix co-founder Carlos Rodríguez, is also profiled in this issue about the arduous path he took to create a successful business, on page 36.

Traditions and celebrations in Bolivia are a patchwork, an aguayo tapestry that reflects the diversity and unity of the people of Latin America. One item that tells this story like no other, and which is central to Christmas celebrations in Bolivia, is the panetón, a sweet bread traditionally eaten around Christmas and paired with hot chocolate. A ubiquitous feature of Christmas in Bolivia, the panetón is actually a recent import from Peru (and originally brought from Europe by Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century). You can now find panetones made with such Bolivian ingredients such as coca and quinoa, and they are part of each and every Bolivian Christmas canastón.

By celebrating Bolivian-ness, we are also embracing the multitude of influences that accompanies it: the variety and uniqueness of this culture, the foreign and diverse influences that have helped shape the country since its formation and that are part of all of us – Bolivians, tourists, expats and the rest.


The Best of La Paz

22 Dec, 2017 | Fruzsina Gál

Photos:  Fruzsina GálOur guide to the must-try specialties of the cityIn La Paz, culinary wonders are never far off. Whether it is questionable street vendors offering a taste of tradition o...

The Andoro Experience

22 Dec, 2017 | Charles Bladon

Photo: Claudia PrudencioTransgressing the boundaries of performance in BoliviaAndoro is no musician alone. This was made clear the moment he stepped through the front door of the coffee shop and greet...

Christmas in Translation

22 Dec, 2017 | Charles Bladon

Photo: Ivan Rodríguez PetkovicExploring the quirks and staples of a Bolivian ChristmasTurkey, Christmas trees, fairy lights, snow and a warm fire: these are a few things that instantly come to my mind...

Atix Hotel

22 Dec, 2017 | Daisy Lucker

Photo: Iván RodriguezA new take on Bolivian hospitalityAs we stand on the rooftop of the newly built, five-star Atix hotel, owner and co-founder Carlos Rodríguez poses for a picture as the sun shines...

Haute Cuisine in a Fashionable Boîte

22 Dec, 2017 | Daisy Lucker

Photo: Alexandra MeleánPopular puts a modern spin on traditional Bolivian food.On 17 November, in a sun-trapped square in which cocktails flowed and canapés were distributed around the room, a new res...

Ballet de Bolivia

22 Dec, 2017 | Fruzsina Gál

Photo: Fruzsina GálRedefining the social boundaries of an artform To think of ballet is to think of a well-constructed image of a tall, slender, fair-toned dancer in front of an elegant, rich, fa...

The Pride of Aiquile

22 Dec, 2017 | David Fegan

Photo: Ana DiazThe Aiquile International Charango Festival celebrates the cultural heritage of a musical companion present through hardships and happiness.Buena onda is a good way to describe the peop...

Profile of a City Zebra

22 Dec, 2017 | Daisy Lucker

Photos:Daisy Lucker/Adriana MurilloA helping hand on every street corner of La PazName: Rocio Grisel Melendres CondoriAge: 29 Gender: Female Occupation: Bringing a ‘pedagogía del amor’ to the city of...

Feelings for the Night

22 Dec, 2017 | Charles Bladon

Photo: Esteban Terrazas SaraviaLa Paz. The sun dissipates and, with it, my urban trepidation. The night encroaches, accompanied by wonder and titillation. The night promises so much, the impossible se...