A city in the clouds

Milka Peñaranda

When one begins to describe a city, the first things that come to mind are images of buildings, houses, squares, fountains etc. One also imagines the natural elements of the city: mountains, trees, hanging baskets that everyone can always enjoy, and of course, the culture of the place. However, when one thinks of El Alto, certain things automatically spring to mind. For example: the quantity of people, the fairs, the country people´s markets, indigenous people, street food, but also conflicts between residents and confrontations between trade unions and the police.

But, without a doubt, the city of El Alto is more than this. It is the youngest city in Bolivia, situated in the west on the high plateau of the La Paz department at more than 4000 metres above sea level. From these heights, one can appreciate marvellous views of the Andes and Real mountain ranges. To the south is the imperious Illimani and to the northwest, the whitest peak, Huyana Potosí.

In this city, there are many areas whose urban planning centres on a main square which all the residents have use of along with an abundance of wide, flat avenues abound where the wind and cold play ¨a la pesca, pesca¨. Of course, there are a vast number of one and two story houses and buildings of up to five stories many of which, thanks to the economic situation of the residents, are made simply from clay bricks. Along the length of ¨Avenida Panorámica¨ one returns to the past in small plastic tents situated in earth streets. Here, among magic, luck and natural potions are the ¨yatiris¨ who take care of all types of curiosities, predictions, ailments, luck and desires.

By ¨Avenida Cívica¨ under a cold sky, in a network of lights and hanging baskets, The Prado can be found. Full of fountains of dancing water and coloured lights, here the citizens of El Alto enjoy walking, jogging, cycling, skating and spending time with family.

In order to give a complete description of the city in the clouds, it is impossible to not mention the recently opened blue teleférico which, without a doubt, will bring thousands of emotions to its passengers.

1Traditional Bolivian game played by several children which consists of one child as the chaser and other children who run to avoid being caught.

2 Store mounted, usually made of plastic material.


Share this: 
the city of El Alto / bolivia / Andes and Real mountain / La Paz / blue teleférico