Israel Fuguemann

Journalist & Photographer
   
Life beyond the Andes
Location: Colombia
Nationality: Mexican
Biography: Journalist and documentary photographer.  In the last years his work focused on social and environmental themes, especially documenting people and cultures in resistance, and the always more extensive reality of extractivism of raw materials... MORE
Public Story
Life beyond the Andes
Copyright Israel Fuguemann 2024
Updated Nov 2022
Location El Alto, Bolivia
Topics Celebrations, Community, Culture, Culture stories, Documentary, Journalism, Latin America, Photography, Photojournalism, Spirituality
Summary
La Paz, Bolivia, is the city of the great lie, of "peace" it has nothing, although seen from El Alto at more than 4,000 meters above sea level, it can deceive anyone. If the souls of the dead rest somewhere, they don't do it quietly here, it's not that they're suffering, it's that they don't know how to do it any other way because that's how they lived, that's how they left and that's how they call them back. The Day of the Dead is the perfect example of this cultural syncretism that transforms the old General Cemetery of La Paz into one of the most massive celebrations in South America.

La Paz, Bolivia, is the city of the great lie, of "peace" it has nothing, although seen from El Alto at more than 4,000 meters above sea level, it can deceive anyone. If the souls of the dead rest somewhere, surely they do not do it peacefully here, it is not that they are suffering, it is that they do not know how to do it in another way, for what? that's how they lived, that's how they left and that's how they call them back. The Day of the Dead or All Saints Day is the perfect example of this pilgrimage and cultural syncretism that transforms the daily silence of the old General Cemetery of La Paz into one of the most emblematic and massive celebrations in South America.

On this particular chaos of music, food, drink, and folklore that is drawn in the Bolivian capital on the first days of November, where it is believed that the dead, or their souls return to remember and appreciate that the highest capital of the American continent continues being in some way, the stamp of that old world they knew; perhaps with more cars, traffic, houses, people and buildings invading the mountains, but still preserving many of those deeply indigenous traditions and rites that resisted each conquest that took place here.

Every year the hill that shelters the tombstones, niches, and mausoleums of some of the most emblematic characters of Plurinational Bolivia, becomes a free zone, a small limbo where the dead and the living take a truce and challenge the laws of nature to coexist in the same space, but in completely different dimensions. The reason is simple but not easy, to make pain, nostalgia, and memory a pretext to continue the great party that was or is, as the case may be, life itself.

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Life beyond the Andes by Israel Fuguemann
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