Bolivians dream big with miniature cars, cash - and roosters

By Santiago Limachi and Monica Machicao
Man dressed as an Ekeko attends "Alasitas" fair, where Bolivians buy miniature versions of goods they would like to own with the hope of acquiring them in real life during the year, La Paz

By Santiago Limachi and Monica Machicao

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivians are dreaming big and hoping investments in miniature models of houses, tiny dollar bills and even pocket-sized roosters will help bring them luck for the year ahead.

The colourful Aymara Festival of Alasita - which means "buy me" - held on Friday, is an annual tradition, with local artisan fairs dealing in miniatures, which are then blessed under the auspices of the indigenous god of abundance, Ekeko.

People buy lucky charms related to their personal wishes for the year. Want professional or educational success? There are mini diplomas and qualifications. Hoping to find a bride or groom? Snap up some mini-rings or a wedding certificate.

"These miniatures come true every year with the blessing of God," said Geovana Jimenez, a seller of the tiny models in La Paz, adding though that people could not rely on luck alone.

"It's also, more than anything, the effort a person makes."

Fernando Villa, who believes in the good fortune the miniatures can bring, said the festival was about having faith in what could be achieved in the year ahead.

"This celebration and this tradition is all about hoping that our biggest wishes become a reality," he told Reuters at the fair, while holding a colourful model of a shop.

Bolivians face some uncertainty in 2020 with a slowing economy and new elections slated for May after long-standing leftist leader Evo Morales resigned under pressure in November, leaving something of a political vacuum.

Jimenez, the miniature seller, said people came from far and wide to join the festivities.

"They come from their homes to buy property deeds, cars, bills (of money), hampers and everything else so they won't be lacking," she said. "That's the tradition, so in the year they can achieve their dreams."


(Reporting by Santiago Limachi and Monica Machicao; Writing by Adam Jourdan)