A ride to the Feria on the Mi Teleférico cable car system, installed in 2014, offers a view of all of this, for less than $2 round trip. Take the Rojo line up, then the Azul across, just to gawk at the market’s vastness. “They say you can buy anything to build a car here — tires, engine parts,” said Ms. Adrade as we wandered through booth upon booth hawking pieces of rusted metal. Turns out the market sells whole cars, too, as well as sugar cane juice, fried trout and brand new Lacoste polos for around 14 boliviano, or about $2. (If you want a llama fetus to ward off bad luck, though, you have to go to the Witches’ Market, or Mercado de las Brujas, downtown.)
Over the course of my visit, I met my two journalism student guides, Ms. Adrade and Ms. Calderon, neither of whom has a boyfriend or wants one; an architect, Bianca Irina Salazar; and Marisa Taha, who is 29 and one of the head chefs at Gustu, La Paz’s top restaurant. It is now a part of a growing food scene that includes the high-concept vegan restaurant Ali Pacha, and Popular, specializing in elevated traditional dishes using 100 percent Bolivian ingredients. They’re only open for lunch and the wait to get in when I was there was over an hour.
Founded by Claus Meyers, the Danish proprietor of Noma in Copenhagen. Gustu began as a cooking school to teach Bolovians about their local ingredients, to give them a reason to celebrate their cultural heritage, and to lift young people out of poverty by giving them jobs in hospitality. Ms. Taha was one of the school’s first employees, and studied cooking in Copenhagen; she is the only remaining Danish employee.