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MUSEO DE LA COCA :: bolivia guide
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You are in: La Paz
Sightseeing - Less0than0USightseeing0 - MUSEO DE LA COCA
 
MUSEO DE LA COCA

Calle Linares #914
Tel. 231 19 98

 
 

Everyone who comes to Bolivia or Peru undoubtedly comes face to face with the coca leaf. Do you want to know more? Here in La Paz the small and popular Museo de la Coca can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about coca, from its medicinal uses, its history, its use in the production of cocaine and the damage that this drug can cause. An English leaflet is given to you with translations ensuring you can browse the museum without missing a thing!
Every day; 10:00 to 18:00
Entrance fee - Bs. 10

 

‘Guard the leaves with much love...’ (The Legend of Coca).

 

I was forced to kick-start my brain to visit this tiny museum, tucked away just off Sagarnaga. This was mainly because a certain level of concentration is needed to make clear sense of the English translation of the information booklet. But it is undoubtedly worth the effort.

 

The coca museum very effectively squeezes a wealth of information into very limited space by relating the history, religious importance and cultural status of the leaf alongside relevant photography and scientific analysis.

 

The museum does not exist to denounce the highly controversial Coca Eradication Programme (although of course, by extolling the virtues of coca it does so implicitly), but rather to promote the positive benefits of coca and discuss its importance in Bolivian culture.

 

Interestingly the museum was not initially aimed at the tourists who now drift quietly round it. However, over time, and due largely to its prominence in most travel guidebooks, the museum has come to cater for the many tourists that pass through its doors each day, for example, by offering translated versions of the information booklet in a number of languages.

 

The exhibition begins with a timeline detailing coca’s long history and doesn’t shy away from highlighting the many hypocrisies and complexities surrounding this mystical leaf. It follows this with numerous displays discussing the religious and ritual uses of the coca leaf and moves on to discuss coca’s consumption today in both its raw form and in its refined form; cocaine.

 

For me, the exhibition was really brought to life by speaking to the co-owner, Señora Sdenka Silva, who is present at the museum on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She was happy to answer any questions, her extensive knowledge expanded upon the information I had read and she was able to answer many of the questions that such an exhibition inevitably provokes.

 

The coca museum is at Calle Linares #906 and is open every day from 10am to 7pm. Admission is 10 Bs. There is also a small selection of products made from coca available for sale at the front desk, such as coca sweets. Just don’t try taking them out of the country…

 

Katherine Stephens

 

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