The Witches Market in La Paz, Bolivia – a place for the fearless traveler. Indigenous women wearing bowler hats, the amulets, the high altitude: a surreal experience.

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Welcome to the Bolivian Witches Market.

But then you see it…what the f*ck is it? Something in a basket. So you move in to get a better look. My friend, what you see is a dead llama – the fetus of a baby llama, to be exact.

As Google puts it:

They are the most important part of an offering to Pachamama, a goddess that many Bolivians and Peruvians call Mother Earth. Together with candy, cotton and other small items the llama fetus is burned after which the ashes are buried under the house for protection.

So there you have it. Buy a dead llama, put it under your house, and pray for good luck.

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Dead llamas on sale in La Paz, Bolivia.

It’s a form of animal sacrifice.

So what do you think of animal sacrifice? Personally, I’m against the idea. I think that animals should only be killed for food. If the llama was turned into a BBQ sandwich, then I would support the idea.

Note: Animal sacrifices occur throughout the non-Western world. For example, the sacrifice of chickens is common to Caribbean Santeria festivals. Cows are sacrificed throughout the Middle East during the Eid al-Adha festival. And Hindus sacrifice a host of animals during the Gadhimai Mela Festival. Some of these festivals can be sickening to watch, even for the strong of stomach.

Cultural relativism has its limits. As you travel the world, you become a bit discriminatory. Some things you like, while others you dislike. Your initial rapture with being outside your homeland fades, and you begin judging the merits of a given custom. You feel that some traditions are better than others.

In my experience, the killing of a baby llama is the strangest tradition in the world.

 

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