The Healers' avenue - Avenida los Curanderos (Bolivia 2008)

Panamericana Avenue, El Alto - La paz. The "business model" here is to help people (whom we will call clients) to be blessed in different aspects of life. Apart from obvious areas like money, luck, love or overcoming business or academic challenges the healers - so called Maestros (in Spanish) or Callahuayas/Huatiris (in Aymara) offer services of counteracting black magic. The avenue is divided into three unions. Each of them is associated with a distinctive colour and every union embodies several Maestros. They perform the healings inside and in front of their "offices" and the procedure usually consists of two separate rituals.

Firstly the client who seeks help gets to the avenue and approaches the Maestro. The client then tells the healer about the area of focus and they agree on price. Once agreed the Maestro sets out to get the ingredients for "la mesa". La Mesa in this context means the ritual table consisting of various offerings (read below). All the ingredients are laid in a circle on a small table inside of Maestros "office" (4x4 meters darkly lit room). Apart from praying the healer also asks in both languages (Spanish as well as Aymara) the omnipresent ghosts for the petition the client requested.
Second part takes place outside of maestro's office. It starts with preparation of a burning place in the stove. On top of wooden pagoda Maestro puts the prepared package and uses industrial alcohol to speed up the burning process whilst repeating the prayers.

Just to elaborate a bit on the vast variety of ingredients used...
I found it interesting that a pack of white sweets in various shapes and sizes (for example stars or frogs mean good luck, crosses meaning safety etc) are used. In this part of the world not that surprisingly the coca leaves and incense (made of different kinds of herbs and minerals) are popular ingredients too. On a creepier note various animal parts or mummified baby llamas (by the way guarantees good luck and good health as well as good wealth) are quite popular. Prices vary between 40-160 BOBs depending on the size.

As I mentioned above another service Maestros offer is to counter-fight black magic. In order to do this they prepare "La Mesa Negra" (black table) but despite admitting this we found it extremely difficult to obtain any information on the subject.

The cost of these services depends on each Maestro but generally oscillate from 50 to 150 bolivianos (BOB) depending on ingredients Maestro uses and his service charge. The more complex procedures however can allegedly climb into several hundreds per session. As we were told the basic philosophy behind these rituals is to thank Pachamama (meaning Mother Earth in Aymara) for everything she gives. The teaching and knowledge of Maestros comes very often from inheritance. They usually start young and gradually learn and gain the qualification. Taught by their parents and grandparents it's upon them to carry the tradition over to next generations...

Big thanks to: Rossio and Mortisqqo for their patience and support!