"El cementerio de los elefantes" Pachamama is thirsty and llama blood just will not satisfy her needs
When I first came across the animal sacrifices in the Witches’ Market, I was repulsed, fascinated and intrigued. I had read of llama foetuses being buried under buildings ‘to bring good luck’ which, even considering the Andean obsession with this fluffy cameloid, seemed a little strange. I decided to investigate. David Mendoza Salazar, Sociologist at the La Paz Institute of Culture, told me more. “The offering is a kind of insurance. While humans inhabit the earth Pachamama is said to own it and any new construction requires a kind of payment fee. If it is paid, the workers will be rewarded with safety and good fortune. If not, Pachamama will take her fee in blood. If the ritual hasn’t been performed, sometimes builders will refuse to work”. He continued: “In truth, often a llama foetus is only considered sufficient for smaller constructions. For larger ones, a human sacrifice is thought more suitable. This is a practice thought to continue to this day and many of the bigger buildings in La Paz probably have some unfortunate buried beneath them”.