The Bolivian Traffic Zebras of La Paz
The Bolivian city of La Paz is truly incomparable to any other places you would visit. From the unique objects such as llama fetuses sold at the famous Witches´ Market, giant spires of the Moon Valley, to the stunning views from the cable car network Teleferico, this city breathes with a kind of atmosphere like no other. The locals love their hometown and are particularly proud of some of its more quirky aspects. One of these aspects has recently received international attention thanks to the US TV show ´Last Week Tonight´ with John Oliver, in which the TV star celebrated traffic guards dressed in zebra costumes, organizing chaotic traffic in Bolivian cities all while dancing and jumping in front of the cars.
I fell in love with the zebras from La Paz long before they became a Twitter sensation during my stay in Bolivia, when I actually became one. After this experience, I can only agree with John Oliver: zebras make everything better!
Las cebras de la Paz, however, are so much more than that. When I met with zebras while participating in the project, I experienced La Paz from a perspective that no tourist tour could offer. Zebras not only guard the traffic with their bodies, but also participate in socio-cultural projects at schools and kindergartens, such as programs supporting healthy eating or urban gardens. Zebras do not shy away from taking on issues such as promoting reading for children, climate change or gender-based violence. In 2015, zebras´ efforts have been even recognized by UNESCO and celebrated as an intangible asset – urban educators and cultural cultivators that educate citizens and promote a culture of solidarity and respect.
If you pass La Paz and have at least four hours to spare one day, you, too, can become a zebra and have an ultimate Bolivian experience like no other. All you have to do is to contact the group on their social media page. You can be sure you will be welcomed into a very special family. Go on, #justaddzebras. It will put your whole travel journey into a new perspective.