Thursday, August 28, 2008


Walking along the streets in El Alto, one finds a lot of people doing different activities. For example, there a lot of young people working as shoeshiners. They are generally on the main streets of Ceja which is the central part of El Alto. Ceja is the place where people changes buses, to go to La Paz city , so it is the perfect place to offer a shoeshining service.

Shoeshiners are divided in groups, each one has twenty of thirthy members. These are formed generally by young men although there are adults too. I asked one of them about girls or women and he told me that they don´t accept women as part of their organization and probably it is the same in the other groups too. It is mainly a male activitiy although in La Paz, there are some women working in this activity.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cristina,

When I was in Peru I asked someone why the shoe shiners cover their faces. He said it's because they feel embarassed by the work and feel the need to hide their identity.

Is this true?

Cristina said...


Here, most of them cover their faces. In the case of El Alto, they live in the different neighborhoods, so they don´t want to be seen working in this activity by their neighbors.

David Sasaki said...

I would assume that they also don't want to breath in the fumes of the shoe polish right?

Cristina said...

For health reasons, all of them should use protection because of shoe polish elements, but it is not the case.

Following the steps of my ancestors

To the Amazon