It was time for something a little different, so one evening we went to see The Bolivian Wrestling Cholitas and they did not disappoint. This is held in El Alto every Sunday evening with the show lasting about two hours. El Alto itself has over 1,000,000 inhabitants and the city is relatively new, built only in 1983 and is an extension of La Paz city which has 2,000,000 people. La Paz is Bolivia’s largest city. El Alto looks like one big market from top to bottom, the streets hum with life and colour, crazy but fantastic being stuck in the middle of it all.
Cholitas are indigenous females, they arrive into the ring, amidst smoke and loud music dressed in all of their finery, bowler hat, jewelry and beautiful shawls. These are soon discarded once the action begins (for obvious reasons) and all you see is braided hair and multi-layered skirts flying around, quite a sight.
The Cholita wrestling was started ten years ago as a way for females who suffered from domestic abuse to protect themselves, and as it gained support from the local community it became a way for women to earn an income. Some of these Cholita’s also have other jobs, but do this for extra money, giving them a level of independence.
During the course of the evening, women fight women, men fight men, and then it goes all a little bit mad, women fight men, and even the referee does not escape! In fact I didn’t escape as “Red Mask Man” came flying out of the ring, over the barrier landing on my arm, all 15 stone of him!.
We were sitting in the front row, beside a lovely local family who shared their popcorn and coke with us, just like the movies ! It was an evening of pure entertainment and fun.
If interested in going you can get a tourist ticket from any of the offices near San Francisco Church in the center of La Paz, as El Alto is not really a place to wander about on your own after dark.